President Trump Signs Rural Broadband Executive Order

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President Trump has signed two orders aimed at streamlining broadband infrastructure deployments in rural America. These items include an Executive Order and a Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of the Interior.  As stated in both items, the White House generally announced that it is “the policy of the executive branch to use all viable tools to accelerate the deployment and adoption of affordable, reliable, modern high-speed broadband connectivity in rural America, including rural homes, farms, small businesses, manufacturing and production sites, tribal communities, transportation systems, and healthcare and education facilities.”

The Executive Order directs the General Services Administration (GSA) to coordinate with federal property managing agencies to evaluate the effectiveness of the GSA Common Form Application for use in streamlining and expediting the processing and review of requests to locate broadband facilities on federal property. Along with various reporting dates, GSA has 180 days to complete this evaluation, which must identify and start implementing needed revisions to the GSA Common Form Application. Additionally, the Executive Order broadly directs executive departments and agencies to “reduce barriers to capital investment, remove obstacles to broadband services, and more efficiently employ Government resources,” though it is unclear how this directive will be implemented.

The Presidential Memorandum orders the Secretary of the Interior to develop a plan to support rural broadband development and adoption by “increasing access to tower facilities and other infrastructure assets managed by the Department of the Interior” including the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Department of Interior specifically must “draft model terms and conditions for use in securing tower facilities and other infrastructure assets for broadband deployment.”  A status report on DOI’s progress is due in 180 days.

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