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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Pai Announces Broadband Advisory Group to Propose Model City Ordinances

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WASHINGTON, January 31, 2017 – Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday announced the formation of a new federal advisory committee that would seek to accelerate deployment of high-speed broadband nationwide, and to close the digital divide, by providing a model approach to deployment for municipalities.

“Access to broadband is increasingly critical for all Americans, no matter who they are or where they live,” Pai said in a statement.  “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.”

The FCC said that the committee would focus on developing specific recommendations for how the agency can encourage broadband deployment by further changing the FCC’s pole attachment rules; identifying unreasonable regulatory barriers to broadband deployment; and through ways to entice local governments to adopt what it considers to be deployment-friendly policies.

In particular, according to the FCC release:

“[O]ne of the Committee’s first tasks will be drafting a model code covering local franchising, zoning, permitting, and rights-of-way regulations.  Many localities may not currently have or be able to develop policies conducive to deployment.  With a model code approved by the FCC, any city could build a better regulatory environment for deployment, and any provider would have a better case for installing infrastructure.”

The agency said that nominees for the newly formed Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee would be drawn from a diverse set of stakeholders representing both urban and rural areas, and that all are encouraged to apply.

More information is available at www.fcc.gov/broadband-deployment-advisory-committee. Nominations should be made by e-mail to BDAC@fcc.gov, and the FCC will accept nominations until February 15, 2017.  The Commission expects to hold its first meeting of the new Committee during the spring of 2017.

For additional information about the Committee, please contact Brian Hurley, the Designated Federal Officer for the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee, at (202) 418-2220 or (Brian.Hurley@fcc.gov), or Paul D’Ari, the Deputy Designated Federal Officer, at (202) 418-1550 or (Paul.DAri@fcc.gov).

Below is Chairman Pai’s complete statement about the BDAC:

“Last September, I proposed what I called a Digital Empowerment Agenda—a blueprint of policies that would accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access, or broadband, in communities across the country.

“Today, I am excited to announce the formation of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC), which will aim to provide advice and recommendations to the FCC on how to do just that.  The BDAC’s mission will be to identify regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment and to make recommendations to the Commission on reducing and/or removing them.

“One of the first things the BDAC will be asked to do is draft for the Commission’s consideration a model code for broadband deployment.  This model code will cover topics like local franchising, zoning, permitting, and rights-of-way regulations.  Building, upgrading, and deploying broadband networks isn’t easy, and red tape often can make the task harder than it needs to be.  Similarly, many localities that have a strong interest in promoting a digital economy within their borders may not have the resources or expertise to develop and implement deployment-friendly policies.  Consumers ultimately pay the price in terms of less access to next-generation services.  Our hope is that with a model code approved by the FCC, one that any city could use as a template, the case for broadband deployment would be much easier, especially for communities that seek to proactively encourage it.

“We’ve already filed the necessary paperwork to stand up the BDAC, with plans to convene its first meeting this spring.  Two dedicated members of the FCC staff, Brian Hurley and Paul D’Ari, have agreed to be the Committee’s Designated Federal Officer and Deputy Designated Federal Officer respectively, and I’d like to thank them for their commitment to these efforts.  But we also need your help.  The Commission will be releasing a Public Notice with more details about the Committee’s work and an explanation of the member-selection process.  I encourage interested members of the public to apply and to be ready to share your best ideas in order to help bring digital opportunity to all Americans.”

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress. His telecommunications-focused law firm, Drew Clark PLLC, works with cities, rural communities and state economic development entities to promote the benefits of internet connectivity. The articles and posts on BroadbandBreakfast.com and affiliated social media, including the BroadbandCensus Twitter feed are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors.

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