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Rep. Blackburn Intros First Batch of Rural Broadband Bills

As advertised, House Communications Subcommittee chair Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has unveiled the first tranche of rural broadband-boosting bills, part of a three-phase strategy GOP House Energy & Commerce Committee leadership had said was on the way.

The three bills in phase one are:
Communications Facilities Deployment on Federal Property Act of 2018: Sponsored by Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.), the bill would amend the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act) to "require executive agencies to use common application forms and cost-based application fees for easements, rights-of-way, and lease requests, and master contracts for placement of communications facility installations on federal property."

Inventory of Assets for Communications Facilities Act of 2018: Sponsored by Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), "requires the General Services Administration (GSA) to coordinate with the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) to ensure federal agencies include an inventory of assets that can be used to attach or install broadband infrastructure." That inventory would available to ISPs and include a contact for more info.

Streamlining and Expediting Approval for Communications Technologies Act: Sponsored by Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), the bill "would require the Senior Real Property Officer of covered agencies to track, record, and report on specified data on the applications to locate or modify communications facilities on covered, federal assets."

"Right now, there are far too many barriers deterring broadband companies from expanding in rural communities. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and complicated," said Blackburn. "That’s why it’s so important this first round of bills is tackling the issues head on."

President Donald Trump last week also signed two executive orders meant to speed tower citing and other use of government land for broadband facilities.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.