The FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) held its first meeting on Friday in Washington, D.C. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai appointed 29 members to the BDAC, which was created in January. Its mission is said to be to provide advice and make recommendations to the Commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed internet access by reducing and removing regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment.
Pai’s remarks at the kickoff meeting included a reference to his goal that “every American who wants high-speed internet access should be able to get it.” He also underlined the fact that broadband deployment is difficult and requires significant fiscal outlay, and he believes too much governmental involvement in the process causes delay.
“Deploying broadband is hard, expensive, and time-consuming work, whether you’re trenching fiber, attaching equipment to poles, or setting up a gateway earth station,” Pai says. “Red tape shouldn’t make those tasks even harder. To me, it’s pretty simple: With rules that make it easier to deploy broadband, we will see more broadband deployed. And in turn, we can empower millions of Americans with digital opportunity.”
The FCC chairman has tasked BDAC members with giving the Commission recommendations on ways to propel broadband deployment and reduce barriers to investment, which he says includes the development of model codes for state and municipal governments that want to encourage deployment and competitive entry in their jurisdictions. The group is also being asked to give advice on how to promote competitive access to broadband infrastructure, including utility poles through concepts such as “one-touch make-ready” and “right-touch make-ready.” Pai also is requesting that BDAC offer ideas around speeding up broadband deployment on Federal lands since it reportedly takes about twice as long to site infrastructure on Federal lands as it does in privately held areas.
FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn’s comments to BDAC members at the meeting acknowledged they are being asked to give advice around some extremely sticky issues including access to poles, ducts, or conduit, franchising model codes, as well as the massive issue that is the digital divide.
“Never overlook the effects of your policy recommendations on ensuring low-income communities are not relegated to a second-class broadband future,” Clyburn says. “I am sure you have seen the maps and the studies, which show that sometimes the poorest among us get the worst broadband service. And while I am well aware of the challenges that face providers looking to enable services in areas that are often least-able to pay, your mission is to look for solutions to this challenge. You must ensure that the policies you recommend will mend, rather than make worse, longstanding digital and opportunities divides.”
Filed Under: Industry regulations