TAC: Feds Need To Speed Broadband To Government Buildings, Lands

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In the spirit of "physician heal thyself," the FCC's Technology Advisory Council, comprising 45 private sector executives and commission representatives, says the federal government needs to do a better job of advancing broadband network deployment on federal lands and buildings, particularly in congested urban areas.

In addition, the government should lead in the innovation of micro cell sites to more efficiently leverage existing spectrum and come up with measures of broadband network quality beyond simply through-put speed.
Those are among the initial recommendations made by TAC in a "midterm" memo (the council was chartered in October) to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski and the other commissioners Monday, according to Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Technological Advisory Council and former head of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and CTIA.

TAC is recommending that the FCC formally ask President Barack Obama to issue an executive order mandating a streamlining process for getting broadband on federal property, including a single-document permit, a single federal agency to coordinate the process, and a 60-day shot clock for approvals.

Per Genachowski's charter, TAC has been looking at how it can promote job creation and innovation in the near-term and without necessarily having to go through a rulemaking procedure to do it, said Wheeler in a call with reporters Monday.

Wheeler said the recommendations said the eight recommendations were the first iterations of TAC's efforts, and that more, including on creating new IPv6 Internet addresses to deal with exploding demand would be forthcoming. "You can take to the bank that the next generation of recommendations from us [likely in late summer] will be heavy on IPv6," said Wheeler.

Among the other recommendations, most employing the FCC as a bully pulpit and official encourager, included launching a municipal "race to the top" program to highlight cities and towns that are promoting broadband infrastructure deployment and collecting best practices from those examples; encouraging a "dig once" regime for excavating rights of way that includes creating a web site where those could be coordinated, and encouraging states and localities to make tower-citing easier, including with a shortened shot clock for approvals--the FCC has been leading the way on streamlined access with its recent revisions to its own rules on pole-attachment rates and rights of way.

"We're asking the FCC to be on a hunt for best performers through a race to the top process, Wheeler said.
But while most of the recommendations rely on a bully pulpit, the tower-citing recommendation has a sting in the tail. "If states and municipalities do not agree to expedite co-location approvals," according to TAC, "the Commission should express its willingness to proceed with a new, shorter "shot clock" rule for co-locations."

Asked to elaborate, Wheeler said: "The recommendation of the TAC is that the commission use its existing leadership pulpit to push for this, and that how folks respond to that voluntary push should then be the fact set that informs what the next step, if any, needs to be."

Genachowksi advisor Josh Gottheimer, who was on the call with reporters, said the chairman would be reviewing the recommendations with TAC and the other commissioners, after which "the [commission} will come back with a time line for action."

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