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Trump Signs Executive Order Expediting Rural Broadband with Federal Lands, Towers and Fiber

Andrew Feinberg



WASHINGTON, January 8, 2018 – President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order encouraging rural broadband deployment by speeding up permitting processes for facilities on federal land and allowing wireless broadband equipment to be co-located on federally-owned towers.

In addition to the executive order and a second executive action – a memorandum for the Secretary of the Interior issued by the White House – Trump addressed the need for better broadband in rural areas in a Monday speech to the American Farm Bureau convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Today, in a few minutes,” Trump said, according to a transcript of his speech, “I will take the first step to expand access to broadband Internet in rural America -- so you can compete on a level playing field, which you were not able to do.  Not fair.  I will sign two presidential orders to provide broader and faster, and better internet coverage.”

Trump tackles the inequities of the rural digital divide in his Monday speech

The titles of the two executive actions  – which Trump read aloud before signing – are “Streamlining and Expediting Requests to Locate Broadband Facilities in Rural America” (the executive order) and “Supporting Broadband Tower Facilities in Rural America and Federal Properties Managed by the Department of the Interior” (the memorandum).

“Those towers are going to go up and you’re going to have great, great broadband,” said Trump, just before signing the orders and holding them aloft.

Here is the text of the Executive Order on Rural Broadband and the Memorandum on Rural Broadband to the Secretary of the Interior.

Administration also seeking to permit rural use of existing federally-owned ‘dark fiber’

According to National Economic Council Special Assistant for Technology, Telecommunications, and Cybersecurity Grace Koh, the Trump Administration will also seek to increase rural broadband deployment by to make use of federally-owned “dark fiber,” or fiber that has been laid but is not currently in use.

This will allow rural broadband providers “to interconnect and provide service to communities that have not had access to broadband before,” and by reviewing existing federal funding sources for broadband adoption and deployment to determine how such sources can be coordinated and brought together so deployment can be subsidized with maximum effect.

Existing federal programs along those lines are administered by the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service, the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and through the Universal Service Fund, which is supervised by Federal Communications Commission.

Both of the executive orders implement recommendations presented by the White House Rural Prosperity Task Force, which the President established last April in order to “identify legislative, regulatory, and policy changes needed to help secure a prosperous future for rural America.”

(Photo of Donald Trump at the American Farm Bureau by the White House.)


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