Increasing Access to Affordable Broadband

Chuck Zimmerman

USDAThe White House along with USDA held a press call to “lay out next steps to increase access to affordable high-speed broadband for all Americans.” On the call are Jeff Zients, Director of the National Economic Council and Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

The call talks about efforts on the part of private enterprise as well as those by government to help bring access to all Americans. They pointed to a study that says that 98 percent of all Americans have access to at least 4G broadband and talked about efforts to increase wired service. New loans to private providers was also announced.

I did not get picked to ask a question but wanted to ask how they are figuring in the use of mobile phone service and internet access via personal hotspots as well as satellite service providers. I recorded today’s call on my AT&T hotspot while on a farm outside Springfield, MO which has wired service less than a mile away but cannot obtain any other service right now.

You can listen to the press call here: White House/USDA Broadband Press Call

Also announced today:

Today the President signed a new Presidential Memorandum making good on his promise in Cedar Falls to stand up a new Council singularly focused on increasing broadband investment and adoption.

The Council, co-chaired by the Secretaries of Commerce and Agriculture, includes over twenty-five different government agencies and components, all united around clear policy objectives to:

– Engage with industry and other stakeholders to understand ways the government can better support the needs of communities seeking broadband investment;
– Identify regulatory barriers unduly impeding broadband deployment or competition;
– Survey and report back on existing programs that currently support or could be modified to support broadband competition, deployment or adoption; and

– Take all necessary actions to remove these barriers and re-align existing programs to increase broadband competition, deployment, and adoption.

The Council will report back to the President, within 150 days, with the steps each agency will take to advance these goals, including specific regulatory actions or budget proposals.

– These steps will build on and expand several actions agencies have already taken during this Administration, such as developing a common application form for wireless broadband providers to lease space for their rooftop antennas, sharing of best practices for “dig once” policies by state and municipal governments nationwide, and offering new online tools for finding and leasing federal assets available for broadband networks.

Government, Internet