Some of the items the FCC Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) voted on Tuesday were recommendations from the working group on “Removing State and Local Regulatory Barriers.” The BDAC is crafting recommendations for the agency to help bridge the digital divide. The group meets again today.
Working Group Chair Robert DeBroux of TDS Telecom said yesterday the group identified patterns that erect regulatory barriers to broadband deployment such as deployment moratoria, ambiguity, excessive fees and bad faith negotiations. They recommended the FCC clarify exactly what is an excessive fee for Right-Of-Way (ROW) access and determine if mediation would resolve disputes more quickly. Excessive ROW fees occur when local municipalities are unwilling or unable to adjust their review processes to reflect different broadband technology or deployment strategies, according to the members.
Root causes could be a local municipality might not have the resources to process a request as quickly as a provider expects or doesn’t have enough information to make a decision. The group suggests exploring a “broadband ready” certification for localities.
“Here’s what you need for my jurisdiction,” DeBroux said a municipality might say to a provider. “Show up with this material and things move faster.”
Group members suggested moratoria should be justified and not open-ended. A ROW manager for municipalities was suggested, someone who has access to existing assets and plans (for tearing up streets, for example.) Construction standards, application fees, road closings, etc. should be pulled together and published where providers can access the information, according to the working group.
January 24, 2018