BDAC Holds Fourth Meeting

The Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) held its fourth meeting January 23rd and 24th.  The working groups/subcommittees presented reports and recommendation for best practice and language on updated broadband-related code.  Over the course of the two days, BDAC debated about the issues of Competitive Access to Broadband Infrastructure, streamline federal siting, model codes for states and municipalities and removing state and local regulatory committees.

The recommendations for the competitive access committee involved hitting on one-touch, make-ready for wireless attachments, make-ready contractor management, defining “complete” attachment applications, joint field surveys for pole attachments, improving self-help remedies, rate disclosure, maximize the use of infrastructure for eligible E-rate areas, and obtain a common database.

The streamlining federal siting work group offered a list of recommendations

  • Standardize and publish fee schedules and utilize revenue to promote expediting federal siting processes
  • Require all federal landholding or managing agencies to prioritize broadband permitting
  • Require all federal landholding or managing agencies to use one standardized application form
  • Harmonize environmental assessments across federal landholding or managing agencies
  • All leases and easements should have typical commercial lease terms with expectant renewal
  • Every project should have a single, clear point of contact
  • There should be a single, easily accessible onine-tracking mechanism for federal agencies
  • The common application form should accommodate changes to existing installations and applicable leases and easements
  • Permit consistent necessary measures to protect national security

The Removing State and Local Regulatory Barriers subcommittee has made a list of commonly contested actions by states and localities which have constituted in slow broadband or wireless deployments in the past.  Their document creates a cautionary track for cities, counties and states toward deploying and adopting better broadband.  It helps cities that have looked at their various processes and rules that may have caused barriers for somebody building fiber.  Some issues discussed in the BDAC document to help better fiber deployment include:

  • Permitting processes that require a lot of paperwork and are burdensome to use
  • City practices that could slow down construction, like burdensome traffic control processes, slow inspections and marking of existing utilities
  • Charging all utilities consistently

The sub-committee also addressed wireless deployments, in which many cities have not developed any processes for dealing with the myriad smaller cell sites and 5G transmitters that carriers are going to want to deploy over the next decade.

Broadband access is essential component to modern life and delivers civic, educational, and recreational benefits and is an important driver of economic growth.  The deployment of broadband entails local franchising, zoning, permitting and access of rights-of-ways as well as clearing environmental and historical approvals which can sometimes be overseen on a local level.  With this in mind the commission opened two proceedings to explore how it might accelerate broadband infrastructure deployment by addressing regulatory barriers to wireline and wireless broadband infrastructure with the law and public interest.  The BDAC working group identified ambiguity, discrimination, excessive feeds, inflexibility, inordiance, and noncompliance as barriers to deploying broadband locally and discourage broadband investment.  These causes can be, in turn, due to lack of capacity, lack of information, lack of process, lack of flexibility, lack of agreement, lack of principles regarding fees, and lack of transparency