WASHINGTON â€“ FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the formation of a new federal advisory committee to explore ways to accelerate deployment of high-speed Internet access (or broadband) nationwide and to close the digital divide.
â€œAccess to broadband is increasingly critical for all Americans, no matter who they are or where they live,â€ said Chairman Pai. â€œItâ€™s becoming the 21st-century gateway to jobs, health care, education, information, and economic development everywhere, from the smallest town to the largest city. That makes it imperative for us to remove regulatory barriers to the deployment of high-speed Internet access.â€
The Committee will focus on developing specific recommendations on how the FCC can encourage broadband deployment across America. Issues the Committee will tackle include further reforms to the FCCâ€™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 scope of the Commissionâ€™s authority.
Drafting a Model Code
In particular, one of the Committeeâ€™s first tasks will be drafting a model code covering local franchising, zoning, permitting and rights-of-way regulations. Many localities may not currently have or be able to develop policies conducive to deployment. With a model code approved by the FCC, any city could build a better regulatory environment for deployment, and any provider would have a better case for installing infrastructure.
Nominees for the newly formed Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee will be drawn from a diverse set of stakeholders to address specific regulatory barriers to broadband deployment in both urban and rural areas. Representatives of consumers and community groups, the communications industry, and federal, state, local, and Tribal officials are encouraged to apply.
Individuals or organizations interested in serving on the Committee should visit www.fcc.gov/broadband-deployment-advisory-committee for information on the nominating process. Please submit all nominations by e-mail to BDAC@fcc.gov. The FCC will accept nominations until February 15, 2017. The Commission expects to hold its first meeting of the new Committee during the spring of 2017.
For additional information about the Committee, please contact Brian Hurley, the Designated Federal Officer for the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee, at (202) 418-2220 or (Brian.Hurley@fcc.gov), or Paul Dâ€™Ari, the Deputy Designated Federal Officer, at (202) 418-1550 or (Paul.DAri@fcc.gov).
STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN AJIT PAI
Re: Formation of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC)
Last September, I proposed what I called a Digital Empowerment Agendaâ€”a blueprint of policies that would accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access, or broadband, in communities across the country.
Today, I am excited to announce the formation of the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC), which will aim to provide advice and recommendations to the FCC on how to do just that. The BDACâ€™s mission will be to identify regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment and to make recommendations to the Commission on reducing and/or removing them.
One of the first things the BDAC will be asked to do is draft for the Commissionâ€™s consideration a model code for broadband deployment. This model code will cover topics like local franchising, zoning, permitting, and rights-of-way regulations. Building, upgrading, and deploying broadband networks isnâ€™t easy, and red tape often can make the task harder than it needs to be. Similarly, many localities that have a strong interest in promoting a digital economy within their borders may not have the resources or expertise to develop and implement deployment-friendly policies. Consumers ultimately pay the price in terms of less access to next-generation services. Our hope is that with a model code approved by the FCC, one that any city could use as a template, the case for broadband deployment would be much easier, especially for communities that seek to proactively encourage it.
Weâ€™ve already filed the necessary paperwork to stand up the BDAC, with plans to convene its first meeting this spring. Two dedicated members of the FCC staff, Brian Hurley and Paul Dâ€™Ari, have agreed to be the Committeeâ€™s Designated Federal Officer and Deputy Designated Federal Officer respectively, and Iâ€™d like to thank them for their commitment to these efforts. But we also need your help. The Commission will be releasing a Public Notice with more details about the Committeeâ€™s work and an explanation of the member-selection process. I encourage interested members of the public to apply and to be ready to share your best ideas in order to help bring digital opportunity to all Americans.
 See Remarks of Commissioner Ajit Pai at the Brandery: â€œA Digital Empowerment Agendaâ€ (Sept. 13, 2016), available at https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-341210A1.pdf (discussing proposals); see also Summary of Commissioner Paiâ€™s Digital Empowerment Agenda (Sept. 13, 2016), https://www.fcc.gov/document/commissioner-pais-digital-empowerment-agenda/summary (summarizing proposals).