In a blog post on September 16, 2013, the White House Office of Science And Technology Policy announced actions taken that the government hopes will reduce barriers for companies seeking to deploy broadband networks on federal properties and rights of way. In the blog post, the co-chairs of the Broadband Deployment on Federal Property Working Group announced “several new tools and resources to help make it easier for companies to build out high-speed Internet, particularly in underserved communities, and the release of a progress report on implementation of the President’s [June 12, 2012] Executive Order.”
The new tools announced today include:
- An interactive mapping tool intended to allow carriers and communities to view and identify opportunities to leverage Federal properties for the deployment of high-speed Internet networks;
- A “Dig Once” guide, which the blog says “includes best practices and policies to help carriers time their broadband deployment activities to periods when streets are already under construction;” and
- A new broadband inventory toolkit designed to serve as a one-stop shop for companies to access permitting forms, lease agreements, and other Federal broadband application documents from various agencies.
The blog post also explained that the General Services Administration is working to implement common forms and templates across agencies, such as a single master application for deploying broadband on Federal properties, to provide multiple broadband service providers and public-safety entities with streamlined business documents for the deployment of wireline and wireless facilities on Federal property. It also stated that the Department of Agriculture is also working to develop an on-line electronic application form to further streamline the process.
Finally, the post explained that “In the coming weeks, we will also be launching an online broadband projects platform, located on the Department of Transportation’s Federal Infrastructure Projects Permitting Dashboard, which will allow agencies to identify and expedite key broadband projects and to publicly track their status.”
Access to federal lands and buildings has been a significant problem for wireless and wireline providers for many years. Given that the federal government owns or manages nearly 30% of all lands in the United States, including 10,000 buildings nationwide, easing and streamlining access to those lands and buildings is critical. Indeed, Congress recognized this in Section 6409 of the Middle Class Tax Relief And Job Creation Act of 2012, which required various steps to aid access to federal easements and rights of way, and ordered GSA to develop a master contract for wireless facilities on federal government buildings and properties.