Friday, June 16, 2017

New Bill Would Accelerate Broadband Deployment in Rural Areas

On June 15, 2017, Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced legislation that would expand rural broadband access by streamlining the application process required for deploying broadband infrastructure on federal lands. The "Rural Broadband Deployment Streamlining Act" (S.1363) would set a 270-day shot clock for the Department of Interior (DOI) and the United States Forrest Service (USFS) to respond to all applications regarding broadband easement and rights-of-way. If the agencies do not act before the deadline, the application will be deemed approved.

The proposed legislation would require the DOI and USFS to establish a streamlined, consistent, and standardized application review process. The bill also would require the Government Accountability Office to analyze the accuracy and usefulness of the National Broadband Map with regard to expanding broadband in rural areas.

If enacted, this legislation will spur the deployment of next-generation 5G networks, which will create $275 billion in investment, 3 million jobs, and $500 billion in economic activity, and it will deliver broadband access to Americans who live in rural and remote areas.