FCC’s Pai forms Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee, sets focus on encouraging broadband growth

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has formed a new advisory committee focused on methods to accelerate broadband deployment.

The program, which reflects the goal Pai set when he became FCC chairman to close the digital divide, will focus on developing specific recommendations on how the FCC can encourage broadband deployment across America.  

The Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) will look at ways to make reforms related to key infrastructure and regulatory issues: pole attachment rules, identifying unreasonable regulatory barriers to broadband deployment, ways to encourage local governments to adopt deployment-friendly policies, and other reforms.

"The BDAC’s mission will be to identify regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment and to make recommendations to the commission on reducing and/or removing them," Pai said in a statement.

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One of the key issues that the committee will focus on is helping to alleviate the confusion related to getting necessary permitting and rights-of-way in local towns and cities.

By having a model code approved by the FCC, the regulator said any city could build a better regulatory environment for deployment, and any provider would have a better case for installing network infrastructure. 

“Building, upgrading and deploying broadband networks isn’t easy, and red tape often can make the task harder than it needs to be,” Pai said. “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.”

Pai added that the lack of a cohesive permitting process means consumers can’t get access to the broadband services they need. 

“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,” Pai said.

The FCC plans to draw nominees for the newly formed BDAC from a diverse set of stakeholders to address specific regulatory barriers to broadband deployment in both urban and rural areas. This will include a mix of consumers and community groups, the communications industry, and federal, state, local and tribal officials.