FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the formation of a new federal advisory committee to explore ways to accelerate deployment of high-speed internet access across the United States and to close the digital divide. Nominees for the committee “will be drawn from a diverse set of stakeholders to address specific regulatory barriers to broadband deployment in both urban and rural areas,” according to an FCC statement. The Commission says representatives of consumers and community groups, the communications industry, and federal, state, local, and tribal officials are encouraged to apply.
The Committee will reportedly look into further reforms to the FCC’s pole attachment rules; identifying unreasonable regulatory barriers to broadband deployment; ways to encourage local governments to adopt deployment-friendly policies; and other reforms within the scope of the Commission’s authority.
Nominations, which will be accepted until Feb. 15, should be submitted by e-mail to BDAC@fcc.gov. The FCC reports it expects to hold its first meeting of the new committee in Spring 2017.
“Access to broadband is increasingly critical for all Americans, no matter who they are or where they live,” Pai says. “It’s becoming the 21st-century gateway to jobs, health care, education, information, and economic development everywhere, from the smallest town to the largest city. That makes it imperative for us to remove regulatory barriers to the deployment of high-speed internet access.”
One of the committee’s first tasks will reportedly be drafting a model code covering local franchising, zoning, permitting, and rights-of-way regulations.
On his first full day as the new chairman last week, Pai emphasized his concern about the digital divide in the United States in a speech he gave before the FCC staff. “One of the most significant things that I’ve seen during my time here is that there is a digital divide in this country − between those who can use cutting-edge communications services and those who do not … We must work to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans,” Pai says. A transcript of his remarks is here.
Filed Under: Industry regulations