The FCC plans to take major action to speed the deployment of small wireless broadband facilities to support 5G technologies at its next meeting, scheduled for September 26, 2018. The FCC’s draft Declaratory Ruling and Order may significantly tilt the balance of power in favor of wireless broadband providers over state and local governments concerning access to rights-of-way and deployment costs. The draft item highlights the FCC’s recent emphasis on spurring the creation of next-generation wireless networks and follows recent moves to exempt certain deployments from environmental/historic preservation reviews and prohibit moratoria on infrastructure projects. Under its latest proposal, the FCC would: (1) restrict the types of fees assessed on deployments; (2) limit the aesthetic requirements imposed on deployments; and (3) establish “shot clocks” on responding to deployment requests. The action is likely to result in legal challenges from state and/or local governments. You will find more about the FCC’s anticipated reforms as well as potential Congressional action on this issue after the jump.

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After a year of heated debate between pole owners and service providers, the FCC is poised to adopt a one-touch make-ready (“OTMR”) process for the “vast majority” of pole attachments at its meeting on August 2, 2018. Late last week, the FCC released a draft Order and Declaratory Ruling that would implement a streamlined process for service providers to bypass certain pole owner requirements in order to gain access to poles to attach new facilities. Chairman Pai has touted the new procedure as hastening broadband deployment by allowing for faster, cheaper pole attachments. The FCC expects significant growth in pole attachments as service providers install the small cells necessary to support 5G technologies.

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On March 30, the Federal Communications Commission (“Commission” or “FCC”) released a Second Report and Order (“Order”) that further clarifies and streamlines the environmental and historical review processes related to deployment of certain wireless infrastructure.  The Commission intends by these actions to facilitate faster deployment of antennas for next-generation wireless networks.

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iStock_000006131068MediumFederal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) Chairman Ajit Pai marked his first open meeting as Chairman by announcing a new Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (Committee), which is intended to advise the FCC on accelerating the deployment of high-speed internet access in communities across the country.  Designed to make recommendations to reduce and remove regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment, the Committee will develop specific reforms to the FCC’s pole attachment rules, identifying unreasonable regulatory barriers to broadband deployment, ways to encourage local governments to adopt deployment-friendly policies, and other reforms within the Commission’s authority, including provisions under the Middle Class Tax Cut and Job Relief Act of 2012.
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iStock_000006131068MediumThe state of Rhode Island plans to be the first state to test and launch next generation 5G networks, seeking to make 5G available to all of its communities.  This past week, Governor Gina Raimondo announced a joint effort by the Public Utilities Commission, Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, and the Office of Innovation to pilot a large-scale 5G network deployment with real world testbeds to attract new high-tech businesses while lowering the cost of deployment and operation.  Citing size, population density, and regulatory flexibility, the State sees Rhode Island as “an ideal place to rollout 5G wireless” and seeks informational proposals from qualified firms and vendors in response to a Request for Information (RFI) on implementing 5G and next generation broadband infrastructure statewide.  While the state will not award funding to any respondents, the state does intend to use the information acquired in its collaboration with municipalities to develop the blueprints for three network imperatives: 5G wireless, Civic Internet of Things and an extensive fiber network.
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funding_opportunity_v1r1The Administration continues to drive efforts to spur broadband deployment across the country and to ensure that all Americans have access to affordable broadband service.  Yesterday afternoon, President Obama announced ConnectALL, an effort aimed at connecting 20 million more Americans to broadband by 2020.

This announcement builds on the successes of ConnectED, the White

This monfunding_opportunity_v1r1th marks the one year anniversary of the Presidential Memorandum that created the Broadband Opportunity Council (Council), a federal inter-agency council, tasked with using all available and appropriate authorities to identify and address regulatory barriers to broadband deployment and adoption.  My former BroadbandUSA colleagues at the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications & Information (NTIA) are quite busy implementing the recommendations from the Council’s Report (Report), released last year.

In just a few weeks, BroadbandUSA will host a half-day workshop on the Community Connectivity Initiative, designed to enable local leaders to better assess their community connectivity and strengthen efforts to align broadband technology with local policies and priorities.  The March 22nd workshop, to be held in Seattle, will engage stakeholders in developing meaningful measures for community broadband access, adoption, policy and use. Specifically, participants will have the opportunity to share insights and suggestions on the design of the program.  Several weeks later, on March 24 and April 12, BroadbandUSA will host two follow-up webinars.


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iStock_000000295237LargeWith both Congress and the Administration focused on streamlining federal permitting and promoting Dig Once policies, the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) published updated rules for access to rights-of-way (ROW) on Indian Lands, including the deployment of communications infrastructure.  The new rules replace the existing regulations that were promulgated over 40 years ago and last updated over 30 years ago. Currently, DOI holds roughly 56 million acres of land in trust for both Indian Tribes and individual Indians, which gives it authority over granting ROWs.  The new rules “reflect modern requirements for rights-of-way and the need for faster timelines and a more transparent process for BIA approval.”  These new rules apply to ROWs granted on or after December 21, 2015.  For ROWs granted prior to December 21, 2015, the substantive provisions of the rule will not apply; however, the procedural provisions of the updated rule will apply retroactively, except where the procedural provisions conflict with the ROW grant or authorizing statute.

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