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Press Release: NATOA Applauds FCC’s National Broadband Plan

March 16, 2010 12:30 PM

Today the FCC publicly released the National Broadband Plan as directed by Congress through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  While NATOA is still in the process of reviewing the full plan and while we do have some issues with some claims made in the plan, generally our initial impressions are favorable and we applaud the FCC for its hard work in the development of the Plan.  NATOA and the local governments it represents intend to work with the FCC to ensure that the Plan’s proposals and recommendations result in the US taking its rightful place at the forefront of nations with advanced broadband capability.

 

“NATOA has long called for increased national planning for more, better broadband, and we are pleased to see this day come when the nation has a direction forward.  Local governments look forward to working in partnership with our federal, state, and private sector counterparts in implementing our broadband future,” said NATOA President Ken Fellman.

 

NATOA believes that the National Broadband Plan is a significant step forward to universal broadband access across the country.  Local governments know as well as anyone that high capacity broadband is critical to our communities including for economic development, education, health care, civic engagement, emergency services, and more.  We believe that the more broadband availability will benefit our citizens and our country and we support the FCC, the Administration, and Congress in seeing the Plan through to completion.

 

NATOA Support for Specific Elements of the Plan:

 

Coordinating Entity to Support, Serve, and Facilitate Service to Anchors:

 

NATOA supports the FCC’s recommendation s in 8.22 calling for the development of a coordinating entity to organize, negotiate for, and serve community anchor institutions throughout the country, at the local, regional, and national levels.  We are pleased that the FCC has recognized the importance of high bandwidth service to all anchor institutions, including schools, libraries, public health, public safety, and government facilities and that the FCC has recognized that local government participation in the development, management, and operation of the coordinating entity is essential.

 

Municipal Broadband Networks:

 

NATOA supports the FCC’s call in Recommendation 8:19 for the removal of state barriers to the deployment of municipal broadband networks.  Currently, 18 states have laws that prevent local governments and their partners from meeting the broadband needs of their communities.  We agree with the FCC’s approach of increasing competition in broadband networks regardless of who is deploying them.

 

Rights-of-Way:

 

NATOA will support the FCC’s proposal regarding public rights-of-way.   Se lf-interested commercial carriers put a tremendous amount of pressure on the FCC to use the Plan as a vehicle for undermining local management of rights-of-way and the setting of rights-of-way fees , but  the FCC listened to the calls of local government and public interest organizations who urged them not to take such action.  We agree with the FCC that the development of an intergovernmental task force of federal, state, local, and tribal officials to examine current rights-of-way practices and develop a best practices guide is the proper way to examine the issue.   Local governments have always been mindful of the societal benefits of broadband deployment, and we look forward to setting the record straight on that issue.   We also look forward to working with the FCC to determine the specific contours of the task force so as to maximize its effectiveness.  NATOA believes the task force’s consideration of rights-of-way access and compensation issues, and processes for resolving disputes, must be consistent federal law, and we intend to work with the task force to address these issues in this context.  We trust that the FCC will not prejudge the work of the task force by acting hastily on the pending Level 3 petition before the task force has a chance to complete its duty.

 

Public Safety:

 

NATOA supports the FCC’s Recommendation 16.1 calling for a national interoperable public safety broadband network.  It is far past time that such a network exists.  We are also pleased that the NBP recognizes that additional resources beyond spectrum are needed to make such a network a reality.  NATOA and its members are prepared to work with the FCC to examine the details of the proposal.

 

Transparency:

 

We applaud the FCC’s decision to continue its data driven examination into the state of broadband competition in the U.S.  NATOA supports the FCC’s decision to increase transparency regarding the actual broadband performance levels realized by American consumers compared to the levels advertised by providers.