President Barack Obama has signed an executive order that would make the deployment of broadband facilities less costly for broadband providers. According to the White House, currently, the cost for deploying broadband through federal property varies depending on which agency is responsible for a property’s management. Because a significant number of areas throughout the nation still have no access to broadband, access to federal property and rights-of-way may prove essential to deploying wire and wireless broadband facilities.
In addition, the federal government’s status as a major landowner (approximately 30% of all land in the U.S., according to the White House), creates opportunities for its departments and agencies to make broadband deployment easier for broadband access providers.
Federal government assets impacted by the executive order will include federally-owned land, buildings, rights-of-way, federally-assisted highways, and Tribal lands. Federal agencies including the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, and the U.S. Postal Service have one year from today to implement a strategy for the timely and efficient deployment of broadband on property managed by these agencies.
The agencies, with the assistance of the Federal Communications Commission, the National Security Staff, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the Council on Environmental Quality, are required to coordinate their strategic efforts in order to ensure consistency of requirements for deploying on federal facilities no matter which agency is responsible for managing the facilities in question.
The executive order did not go into any detail as to how deployment across federal properties would put a dent in the number of unserved and underserved households in the nations urban, rural, and insular areas. The executive order did not project the level of impact on the economy or commercial activity as a result of deployment either.
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