The Fiber Broadband Association believes that by reducing regulation, we can propel investment in all-fiber infrastructure. In the past, the Fiber Broadband Association has urged regulators to: not mandate unbundling of fiber facilities; not impose onerous open internet requirements on broadband providers; not require battery back up in all-fiber networks; and not regulate the prices for business data services provided over all-fiber facilities. In addition, the Fiber Broadband Association advocates for the removal of public and private barriers to investment, such as unreasonable fees for access to poles and rights of way and unreasonable franchise requirements.
The Fiber to the Home Council’s President and CEO Heather Burnett Gold spoke before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee today.
At a hearing entitled “Breaking Down Barriers to Broadband Infrastructure Deployment,” Gold testified about ways to streamline the federal construction permitting process and expand statutory rights to access to poles, ducts and conduit to accelerate the deployment of broadband to more Americans.
In her testimony, Gold noted that service providers that seek to deploy all-fiber networks continue to encounter substantial roadblocks. Congress can act to alleviate these burdens, specifically by enacting legislation to overcome frequently significant delays that many service providers experience that wish to access Federal lands, buildings, and other assets to place fiber. Specifically, Congress should require a complete and interactive database of federal assets on which broadband infrastructure can be deployed. Further, measures such as “Dig Once” are needed ensure the efficient availability of these essential assets. In addition, the government should be required to strive for common permitting processes and fee schedules for access, as well as the elimination of duplicative historic, cultural or scientific reviews. Finally, deadlines are necessary to facilitate timely access to Federal assets, backed up by a shot clock, where approval is automatically granted after certain period.
To address difficulties broadband deployers face when seeking fair, reasonable, timely, and nondiscriminatory access to poles, ducts, and conduits, Congress can:
- codify the timelines for processing applications, conducting surveys, and performing make ready established by the FCC in 2011;
- enact streamlined procedures to enable expeditious resolution by the FCC of any complaints concerning alleged timeline violations;
- require make ready charges to be cost-based and to be reasonably apportioned among new attachers and existing attachers where there are violations;
- guarantee the right of attachers to use certified contractors to perform surveys and make ready when pole owners are not timely in their performance of these activities;
- bring all providers of poles, conduit, ducts, and rights-of-way – including the Federal government, cooperatives, and municipally owned electric utilities – under the Pole Act to create a legal backstop where access negotiations fail; and
- adopt a single generally applicable formula for pole attachment charges, which applies not only to traditional cable and telecommunications service providers but new communications service providers as well that may not fit into traditional categories.
The Council commends the Subcommittee for hearing concerns about barriers that stand in the way of fiber network deployment, and we stand ready to work with them as they move to address these barriers.
Full testimony attached.