Blackburn: “People want broadband as much as new roads. Republicans and Democrats are eager to work together to solve this challenge.”
WASHINGTON, DC – The Communications and Technology Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), today held a hearing examining barriers to broadband deployment throughout the country. In addition to receiving testimony from two panels of witnesses, #SubCommTech looked at two discussion drafts aimed at alleviating the burden and eliminating the red tape when it comes to deploying broadband throughout the country.
- Create an inventory of federal assets that can be used to attach or install broadband infrastructure,
- Require all landholding agencies to use common templates when leasing space for wireless broadband attachments, and;
- Streamline processes for communications facilities locations applications at the Department Interior and Forest Service.
- Mandate the inclusion of broadband conduit during the construction of certain highway projects that receive federal funding.
There is general agreement among the federal government, private industry, and public stakeholders that the framework of federal permitting, siting, and permissions to access rights-of-way present a barrier to investment and are slowing broadband deployment. Broadband infrastructure is particularly lacking in rural areas throughout the country and consumers in these areas are falling behind their urban counterparts in what has been described as the “digital divide.”
“Lack of broadband access, particularly in rural areas, is an issue which affects the constituents of numerous members of the subcommittee, Republican and Democrat,” said Chairman Blackburn. “We must cut through the red tape by streamlining permitting processes and implement accurate availability data in order to solve the broadband dilemma.”
Joanne S. Hovis, President of CTC Technology and Energy, spoke to the importance of public-private partnerships when deploying broadband, stating, “By working cooperatively with state and local governments, the private sector stands to benefit in multiple ways – as partners, as users of the networks to market their goods and services in the rapidly emerging information-based global economy, and as contributors to the next generation of innovations.”
Thomas Murray, Founder and Managing Member of Community Wireless Structures and Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Wireless Infrastructure Association, echoed Ms. Hovis’ testimony, commenting, “To reap the tremendous benefits of next generation broadband, we must all work together to encourage and incentivize responsible and efficient wireless infrastructure deployment. Your draft bill is a significant and positive step in that direction, and there is much work to be done.”
Chairman Blackburn listens to witness testimony
“We are all tired of hearing stories about parents driving their children to the local McDonald’s for Internet access in order to finish their homework assignments. We owe them better, period. The 5G revolution is upon us and we should modernize our laws to address issues such as tower siting and federal rights of ways, which are tying the hands of the private sector,” concluded Chairman Blackburn. “Unleashing broadband will create economic, educational and healthcare opportunities for millions of hardworking taxpayers.”
A background memo, witness testimony, and an archived webcast of the hearing can be found on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s website HERE.