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Technical Advisory Committee: Eight easy ways the FCC can help fuel broadband deployment


When the Federal Communications Commission created a technical advisory committee last fall, it charged the committee with coming up with recommendations to enhance innovation, create jobs and increase competition that the commission could put in place without requiring a rulemaking. Today the committee released what it calls a “mid-term report” that includes eight recommendations aimed at streamlining broadband deployment by eliminating red tape and encouraging government entities to adopt modern communications technology.

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“Always when dealing with policy issues there is the inherent tendency to say, ‘Let’s have a rulemaking or inquiry on this,’” said TAC Chairman Tom Wheeler on a conference call with reporters this morning. The TAC, he said, asked itself “What can we recommend that the commission can do now that can use its existing authority and the leadership pulpit of the commission to move things ahead?”

The recommendations for the FCC are:

1- To recognize municipalities that have expedited broadband deployment, with the goal of encouraging other municipalities to adopt the same approach.

2- To ask the White House to issue an order to expedite the approval process for deploying infrastructure on federal land and in federal buildings.

3- To use what Wheeler called the FCC’s “leadership pulpit” to encourage states and municipalities to create a faster procedure for adding equipment to existing infrastructure, such as cell towers. “Once you have a decision made about a cell site, hanging another antenna on that site should be a fast decision, not one that takes as long as [the initial decision],” Wheeler said.

4- To go on the road with a series of workshops to help educate municipalities about new technologies for deploying broadband such as micro-trenching, distributed antennas on light poles and directional boring. “We need to be more aggressive in explaining to those charged with decisions what their options are,” said Wheeler.

5- To create a “white label” web site that would be freely available to any local government to use to disseminate information about planned telecom and utility company construction projects so that companies in other industries can consider deploying their own infrastructure in the same trenches to reduce construction costs and minimize disruptions.

6- To establish new metrics to measure broadband network quality other than speed.

7- To highlight concerns about devices designed to work with traditional phone networks such as alarm systems, automatic teller machines and point of sale terminals that could become stranded assets as networks increasingly shift toward IP.

8- To work with federal agencies to encourage more efficient use of spectrum by, for example, installing small cell sitesin and on commercial and government buildings.

Additional recommendations from the TAC will be forthcoming, Wheeler said.


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