Communications & Technology Task Force Files Letter with the FCC Discussing Barriers to Broadband Deployment
The Communications & Technology Task Force recently filed a letter with the Federal Communications Commission, along with an op-ed and a copy of the task force’s Resolution Encouraging the Support of Infrastructure Buildout to Pave the Pathway for Next Generation Networks.
Generally speaking, policymakers and stakeholders agree that closing the digital divide—ensuing that all Americans have access to quality broadband—is an imperative. Municipalities that charge broadband infrastructure companies unreasonable fees or have other unreasonable conditions prior to accessing municipally-owned resources raise barriers and increase the costs all Americans must pay for broadband access.
Both the letter and op-ed discussed the impact unreasonable local fees, conditions, and ordinances have on broadband deployment. While some municipalities may calculate the fees they charge broadband companies based on the cost to the city for surveys and other professional services, some municipalities view broadband companies as sources of revenue rather than as partners that can help connect their residents to the internet.
The letter and op-ed highlight illustrations, statistics, and legal recourses that may be open to the FCC. For example, broadband providers plan on investing nearly $275 billion over the next seven years upgrading their systems to small cell, or 5G, technology. Current local unreasonable fees may add between 20 and 100 percent to the cost of construction. These are funds broadband companies could use to further build out their networks, reaching unserved and underserved areas.
State legislators have a number of options open to them when considering ways to close the digital divide. One such way, consistent with the ALEC model resolution referenced above, is to encourage deployment by working with localities to expedite the permitting process and eliminating localities’ ability to charge unreasonable fees.
Streamlining the review process and removing state and local barriers to broadband deployment will greatly benefit consumers. Reducing local barriers to broadband deployment will close the digital divide. Reducing barriers will ensure consumers have access to the quality broadband they need, and so much more.