President Trump’s broadband infrastructure plan – long of streaming the process, short on specific new funds

The White House reports on the Presidential Executive Order on Streamlining and Expediting Requests to Locate Broadband Facilities in Rural America…

To implement this policy and enable sustainable rural broadband infrastructure projects, executive departments and agencies (agencies) should seek to reduce barriers to capital investment, remove obstacles to broadband services, and more efficiently employ Government resources.

Among other actions, the executive branch will continue its implementation of section 6409 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-96)(“section 6409”), which requires, among other things, that the General Services Administration (GSA) develop a common form and master contract for wireless facility sitings on buildings and other property owned by the Federal Government.  These documents enable the Federal Government to process wireless facility siting requests more efficiently and will also provide additional predictability regarding the availability of locations for asset installation to installers of wireless broadband facilities.

Sec. 2.  Reviewing Requests to Locate Broadband Facilities on Federal Real Property.  (a)  Within 180 days of the date of this order, the Administrator of General Services (Administrator), in coordination with the heads of Federal property managing agencies, shall 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 real property.

(b)  As part of this evaluation, the Administrator shall determine whether any revisions to the GSA Common Form Application are appropriate and, to the extent consistent with law, shall begin implementation of any such revisions.

(c)  In furtherance of section 6409, all applicants and Federal property managing agencies shall use the GSA Common Form Application for wireless service antenna structure siting developed by the Administrator for requests to locate broadband facilities on Federal property.  Federal property managing agencies shall expeditiously review and approve such requests unless an approval would negatively affect performance of the agency’s mission or otherwise not be in the best interests of the United States.

(d)  Within 180 days of the date of this order, and on a quarterly basis thereafter, all Federal property managing agencies shall report to the GSA regarding their required use of the Common Form Application, the number of Common Form Applications received, the percentage approved, the percentage rejected, the basis for any rejection, and the number of working days each application was pending before being approved or rejected.  Each report shall include the number of applications received, approved, and rejected within the preceding quarter.

(e)  Ninety days after the date of this order, and on a quarterly basis thereafter, the Administrator shall prepare and provide to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (Director) an aggregated summary report detailing results from the reports submitted under subsection (d) of this section.  Not later than 1 year from the date of this order, the Administrator shall recommend to the Director improvements to the Common Form Application needed to further the purposes of this order.

Benton provided a summary…

The Trump administration is eyeing multiple “work streams” to help speed along broadband deployment, the National Economic Council’s Grace Koh told reporters: easing the permitting process on federal lands; letting towers built on federal lands also include infrastructure from telecom companies; and using dark fiber agencies have deployed to help rural providers through interconnection agreements. “We’ll also look at funding sources,” Koh added, noting the existence of “funding sources for both broadband deployment and adoption scattered across the federal government” and a plan to look at “how we can coordinate those funding sources and bring them together in order to get the maximum effect for the subsidy.” But senior administration officials weren’t prepared, when asked later in the call, to say the degree to which the Trump White House aspires to close the digital divide or provide a dollar estimate for what the administration may be interested in spending.

Telecompetitor recognizes that new funding is not specified…

Some stakeholders may have been hoping to hear about new funding for broadband. But Trump did not say anything about that. One of Trump’s first actions after he was elected president was to seek input on infrastructure initiatives that might spur U.S. economic development. At that time, various stakeholders suggested that broadband should be part of any such plans, and Republican FCC commissioners noted that if funding were made available for broadband, it should be administered through the Universal Service program – a program that currently faces a budget shortfall.

But although Trump said today that “necessary funds” would be available to rebuild crumbling rural infrastructure including roadways, railways and waterways, he made no reference to funding for broadband.

And while the rural task force report also highlights the important role that broadband can play in rural America, report recommendations do not discuss broadband funding other than a suggestion to “assess the efficacy of current programs.”

This entry was posted in Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s