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GOP Broadband Blitz Draws Some Applause

A just-introduced package of Republican-backed broadband bills drew a crowd in Washington Thursday (June 25). 

Given that the bills would streamline wireless broadband infrastructure tower siting, it was no surprise that FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr gave it a hand. Carr was deputized by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to oversee the FCC efforts at such streamlining as part of Pai's media modernization deregulatory initiative. 

Related: FCC Clarifies Wireless Buildout Streaming Rules 

“The Republican Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have put together a smart and comprehensive set of infrastructure reforms,” said Carr. “Their thoughtful reforms would bring families across the digital divide and further extend America’s leadership in 5G by helping to accelerate the build out of high-speed Internet services. Their ideas, including legislation that would tackle the permitting delays that persist for Internet builds on federal lands, would make an immediate difference for rural communities across the country." 

There are most of a dozen bills targeting buildouts on federal lands as part of the Republican package, though its prospects in a Democrat-controlled House are problematic.  

USTelecom, which represents the major telecom ISPs, was equally pleased. 

“Representatives [Greg] Walden, [Bob] Latta and members of the Energy and Commerce committee are right to focus on the role outdated regulations, slow approvals and rights-of-way disputes play in holding back broadband construction and deployment," said President Jonathan Spalter. "Too often our network innovators bump into red tape and rules that make these essential infrastructure projects slower, more expensive or nearly impossible. That doesn’t help consumers, especially those in corners of the country that need – and deserve – 21st century connectivity.” 

“I welcome further efforts from Congress to close the digital divide and expand wireless broadband services, and thank Republican Leaders Walden and Latta for their work to produce this comprehensive legislative package," said Competitive Carriers Association President Steven K. Berry. "Promoting new infrastructure deployment by reducing unnecessary barriers, clarifying federal, state, and local zoning authorities, and fostering competition will result in a win-win-win for consumers, industry, and the economy. At a time when consumers are relying on mobile broadband services more than ever before, it is a real positive that policymakers are focused on ensuring broadband can be deployed in unserved and underserved areas. I thank the Members for their work on these important issues, and CCA stands ready to work with Congress to keep moving forward.”