Using U.S. Clout to Boost Broadband

Publish date:
Social count:

Washington — Technology executives
advising the Federal Communications
Commission say the
government needs to do a better job
of advancing broadband-network
deployment — specifically to federal
lands and buildings, and particularly
in congested urban areas.

The FCC’s Technology Advisory
Council came into being last fall, after
the commission concluded that
broadband Internet service was not
being deployed in a timely fashion.

The advisers — 45 privatesector
executives, including cable
operators — want the FCC to seek
a streamlined 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. That could be
done by presidential executive
order, according to TAC.

TAC also wants the government
to lead in the innovation of micro
cell sites to better leverage existing
spectrum and to come up with measures
of broadband network quality beyond simply throughput
TAC made its recommendations in a “midterm” memo
(the council was chartered in October) to FCC chairman Julius
Genachowski and the other commissioners last week, according
to Tom Wheeler, the TAC chairman and former head
of both the National Cable & Telecommunications Association
and CTIA–The Wireless Association.

Per Genachowski’s charter, TAC has been looking at how to
promote job creation and innovation in the near term. It hopes
to avoid having the FCC start a rulemaking, collect comments,
vote and implement an order — a “long, drawn-out administrative
proceeding,” in Wheeler’s words.

Wheeler said last week that TAC’s eight recommendations
were just a first volley. More will
come later, including recommendations
on creating new Internet
Protocol version 6 Web addresses
to deal with exploding demand.

“You can take to the bank that
the next generation of recommendations
from us [likely in late summer]
will be heavy on IPv6,” he said.

Other recommendations —
heavy on using the FCC as a bully
pulpit — include:

• Launch a municipal “race to the
top” program to highlight cities and
towns that are promoting broadband
infrastructure deployment,
and collect best practices.

• Support a “dig once” regime
for excavating rights of way that
includes creating a website where
sites could be coordinated.

• Encourage states and localities
to make the tower-siting easier process
easier, including a shortened
shot clock for approvals.

The FCC has already been acting
on towers, streamlining access to
them with recent revisions to 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.

Genachowksi adviser Josh Gottheimer said the chairman
would review the recommendations with TAC and the other
commissioners. Then the agency will produce “a timeline for