Comments to Federal Communications Commission on Spurring Broadband Deployment

ITIF submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission on potential actions to help expedite the deployment of next generation wireless and wireline infrastructure. Efficient access to rights of way and municipal infrastructure to deploy wireless and wireline infrastructure will be essential to securing U.S. leadership in developing a robust Internet ecosystem around advanced wireless capabilities. In addition to robust fiber for both access and backhaul, streamlining and expediting the process requirements of new small-cell siting approvals will be required for the large-scale deployments necessitated by 5G technologies.

The time is ripe to re-evaluate federal levers to remove barriers to infrastructure investment, looking to particular points of friction in deploying new networks or identifying changes in technology—such as the transition from large macro towers to small cells—that call for commensurate changes in policy. ITIF strongly supports efforts to spur broadband deployment, and therefore urges the Commission to move forward with its proposals under consideration to the extent legally permissible to accelerate broadband deployment.

Broadband deployments—whether in the form of new overbuilds where economically viable, extension of networks to unserved areas, or upgrades to existing networks providing enhanced wireless or wireline services—obviously benefit local communities. But there are large spillover effects from broadband that benefit those beyond where a particular network is deployed, giving rise to tension, and at times divergence, between local and national interests, particularly when localities look to providers to supplement the local tax base.

The Commission should not let fearmongering over health effects of radio-frequency (RF) emissions unnecessarily impede the deployment of 5G systems, but it should recognize that these RF fears, regardless of their illegitimacy, may impede new infrastructure deployment. The FCC should take steps to quell these concerns.