Fight over federal muni broadband bill highlights preemption’s dangers

25 July 2018 by Steve Blum
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Although republicans and democrats often agree that broadband service, particularly in rural areas, needs upgrading, they can’t seem to agree on what constitutes improvement. A hearing earlier this month in Washington D.C. brought this conceptual digital divide into focus.

Silicon Vally representative Anna Eschoo (D – Santa Clara) introduced a bill in Januaryhouse resolution 4818 – that would preempt state-level restrictions on municipal broadband. It was discussed – not formally considered, just discussed – during a general broadband hearing held by a house of representatives sub-committee on communications and technology.… More

Pile of broadband bills and initiatives grows in Washington, D.C.

21 January 2018 by Steve Blum
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The federal government shut down is an opportunity to take stock of some of the broadband legislation and spending initiatives put on the table in the federal capital during the past couple of weeks.

Federal Communications Commission president Ajit Pai is circulating a proposal to direct what he says is an extra $500 million towards small rural carriers and cooperatives and “put in place strong new rules to prevent abuse”. It would come from an existing universal service program – whether it’s really new money or just a rebranding is unclear.… More

At least some broadband policy can cross party lines in congress

31 March 2017 by Steve Blum
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There are aspects of broadband policy that are getting bipartisan support in the U.S. congress. Not anything to do with privacy rules or network neutrality or common carrier status for broadband, of course. But there are common views regarding some of the nitty gritty details of broadband infrastructure deployment.

A house of representatives sub-committee that deals with communications and technology issues looked kindly on two draft bills, both of which are largely revivals of proposals that didn’t make it out of congress last year.… More

Bill introduced in congress would ban state limits on local broadband service

18 September 2016 by Steve Blum
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With two weeks to go before the U.S. congress takes a pre-election break, progress on broadband-related bills appears to be as bogged down as it was in the California legislature’s recently concluded session. That’s not stopping Silicon Valley representative Anna Eshoo from throwing another community broadband bill into the hopper, though.

House resolution 6013 would, in effect, overturn a federal appeals court ruling that said the Federal Communications Commission can’t preempt a state’s ability to restrict municipal broadband projects.… More

Federal broadband development policy moves ahead in congress

7 December 2015 by Steve Blum
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Easier access on the horizon.

The U.S. house of representative’s communications and technology subcommittee approved a package of broadband development measures on Wednesday, aimed at making it easier to use federal property to build infrastructure and publish more information about existing facilities. The bill includes dig once language developed by Silicon Valley congresswoman Anna Eshoo. As currently drafted, the bill would establish

  • An inventory of federal broadband assets, and any broadband asset information voluntarily provided by state or local governments.

Proposed federal broadband infrastructure package includes dig once

1 December 2015 by Steve Blum
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“Dig once” requirements for federal highway projects might not have made it into a recent transportation bill, but the U.S. house of representative’s communications subcommittee will vote tomorrow on a bigger package of broadband development measures that includes it. According to a story in Broadband and Cable, the package also includes common deal terms, greater access to poles, a federal broadband asset inventory, and streamlined permits and environmental clearances. The details of the bill aren’t available right now, but you can find links to the proposed bills that led to it here.

Congress sends highway conduit bill into the slow lane

28 November 2015 by Steve Blum
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Broadband conduit won’t be getting a fast track into federal highway projects. A bill sponsored by Silicon Valley congresswoman Anna Eshoo would require broadband considerations, and conduit in particular, be included in the planning that states do for federally funded highway construction.

The easy way to get it done would have been to include the language in this years’ highway funding bill, which is a must pass piece of legislation. Eschoo tried to do that, but was rebuffed.… More

New effort to require broadband conduit in federal highways

25 November 2015 by Steve Blum
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It’s easier to dig first, pave second.

Silicon Valley congresswoman Anna Eshoo is taking a third try at baking dig once requirements into federally funded transportation projects. She’s introduced a bill in the house of representatives that would require states to evaluate the need for broadband conduit as part of planning road projects…

If the evaluation reveals an anticipated need in the next 15 years for broadband conduit beneath hard surfaces to be constructed by the project, the conduit shall be installed under the hard surfaces as part of the covered highway construction project…

The Secretary shall ensure with respect to a covered highway construction project that an appropriate number of broadband conduits as determined by the Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, are installed along such highway to accommodate multiple broadband providers, with consideration given to the availability of existing conduits…

The Secretary shall ensure that any requesting broadband provider has access to each broadband conduit installed pursuant to this section, on a competitively neutral and nondiscriminatory basis, for a charge not to exceed a cost-based rate.