By Peter Jones
This week, Centennial officially joined Next Century Cities, a new initiative of 31 U.S. cities that emphasize what they say is the importance of leveraging gigabit-level Internet as a way to attract new businesses, create jobs – and even improve healthcare and education, organizers say.
Last year, Centennial voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question that allowed the city to lease its 48 miles of publicly owned fiber-optic lines – previously used only for traffic-signal operations and connecting public facilities – to private cable and Internet companies.
The launch event for Next Century Cities took place Santa Monica, Calif. this week with Centennial Mayor pro tem Ken Lucas representing Centennial.
“As we all know, technology is continuously evolving at a very rapid pace and it is important for the City of Centennial to be at the forefront of these technological improvements so our residents, institutions and businesses have the ability to compete in a global environment,” Lucas said.
Next Century Cities was established to support communities and its elected leaders in efforts to access fast, affordable and reliable Internet. Participating cities will also work with each other to sort through the morass of technical information.
According to Lucas, access to telecommunication services and ultra-fast broadband has become a key priority when businesses decide where to locate new facilities.
“Since Centennial is located in a very competitive neighborhood of cities, we want to be at the top of their lists,” the mayor pro tem said. “We hope to accomplish these goals by finding the right private-sector partners who will provide the technical and financial expertise to get us there.”
Passage of Centennial’s 2013 ballot question freed the home-rule city from the constraints of a state statute that prevents municipalities from entering the telecommunications market, unless the city’s voters decide otherwise. The wording required Centennial to lease its $5 million in fiber optic lines on a nonexclusive basis, meaning the city cannot exclude any cable or Internet companies from leasing Centennial’s fiber-optic infrastructure.
Cherry Hills Village will decide a similar ballot question on Nov. 4.
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