Originally published: March 11, 2010
Last updated: November 29, 2010 - 11:35am
The broadband networks of the 21st century frequently depend upon the policies that government has for infrastructure that is decidedly 20th century -- wooden utility poles, conduits underneath bridges, and easements alongside America's roads and highways. Because government controls and regulates many of these infrastructure inputs, there is a tremendous opportunity for enlightened public policy to spur and accelerate broadband deployment.
The draft Plan makes several recommendations that build upon successful efforts undertaken by state and local governments with regard to these important assets.
First, the Plan recommends a comprehensive approach for resetting government policy toward new network construction, which often depends upon access to government rights-of-way, buildings and facilities.
Second, the Plan makes a number of recommendations designed to maximize utilization of existing infrastructure assets, such as poles and conduits that are controlled by private utilities. Today, the FCC has the responsibility to ensure that utilities that control access to these infrastructure facilities offer them up to telecommunications and cable providers on just and reasonable rates, terms and conditions. But the process can be slow and costly, and get bogged down in disputes that linger for months if not years. These disputes go both ways -- in addition to the needs of communication companies for timely and efficient access, electric utilities have legitimate concerns about safety that need to be addressed and enforced. The Plan recommends several changes to the FCC's pole attachment regulations that are designed to speed the process, facilitate the exchange of information between pole owners and attachers, lower costs, and resolve disputes efficiently.
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