Deep dive on the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee’s (BDAC’s) activities

Deep dive on the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee’s (BDAC’s) activities

Since FCC Chairman Pai announced its formation, January 31, 2017, the BDAC has convened three
times. At the last meeting, November 9, 2017, the five BDAC working groups provided their initial
work results for discussion and a vote by the overall committee. Recommendations voted on were
considered final for the FCC to consider, however, are nevertheless subject to modification by and
at the next BDAC meeting, scheduled for January 23rd and 24th, 2018.

A review of the pages of working group reports demonstrates that the groups and subcommittees are
getting deep into the weeds regarding existing and preferential processes and procedures for
developing small cell facilities in public rights-of-way, for attaching wireless components to existing
utility poles, for establishing advanced processes to facilitate rapid wireless deployment, as well as
developing tools to encourage, educate, and incentivize local and state governments to collaborate
with the FCC on standard terms and conditions for fast-track broadband deployment.

The workgroup studying solutions to address Siting Challenges on Federal Lands delivered ten
recommendations to the FCC that were approved by the BDAC, including:
-Prioritization of broadband siting application proposals across all government agencies
-Standard application forms and procedures in federal agency offices across all regions and states
(including streamlined NEPA and Section 106 historic review processes, and shot-clocks for
agency review, requests for information, acceptance of existing studies, and usage fees)
-Utilization of agency revenues from fees that supports expedited process by agencies
-Federal agencies leases, easements, and permits for with long terms, such as 30 years or more
-A single point-of-contact for each broadband deployment project application
-Streamlining of the Defense Department’s spectrum clearance process
-Redefine deeded and covenant terminology that excludes broadband infrastructure, for instance
under the misrepresented banner of commercial use instead of as an essential utility service use.

The Competitive Access to Broadband Infrastructure Work Group organized its proposals to the
FCC in three categories. The first category was submitted and approved by the BDAC.
-These recommendations call for resolution of complaints regarding access to and usage fees for
poles, ducts, conduits, and rights-of-way within 180 days, and
-Exclusion of previously recovered capital costs in make-ready fee calculations (per generally
accepted accounting procedures)

Make ready is the work done to prepare utility poles for communications equipment attachment.
The second category of finalized Competitive Access Group recommendations involving pole
attachment make ready processes and procedures for BDAC approval at a future meeting are;
-One-touch pole attachment make-ready provision for simple work in the communications space,
-Qualification considerations for contractors to perform distinct aspects of make-ready work,
-Notification requirements for on-site joint stakeholder field survey meetings,
-Methods to expedite and define complex work, work in and above the power space, the wireless
power space, and/or the wireless communications space of the pole,
-Defining application completion and the project process steps of Request, Response, Makeready,
Determination of Simple v. Complex Work, Performance of Work, Notice to Proceed, and Tools
for attachment applicants to navigate complications that arise in the process,
-Online requirements for publishing pole attachment and permit rates, terms, and conditions,
-Utilization of greater collocation efficiencies among all forms of right of way and infrastructure,
-Consolidation of pole attachment activities into a uniform national management system,
-Development of an infrastructure database available to assist speedy broadband deployment,
-Determination of reasonable cost-based charges for make-ready work, field inspections, and
indemnification for damages to existing assets, and
-Creation of an Implementation Advisory Group or Independent third party to oversee contractor
qualification, maintain the database of qualified contractors, and support contractor management.

The third category of Competitive Access Group recommendations remain subject to discussion.
These will be submitted in final form to the BDAC for approval at a future meeting and include:
-Withhold federal funding from right-of-way projects that don’t plan conduit placement, simple
procedures for providers to gain access to such conduit, or perform GIS mapping of the conduit,
-Creation of a one-stop shop at the FCC to process broadband infrastructure requests on federal lands
and properties within 120 days,
-Requirement to participate in mapping programs for organizations to receive federal assistance,
-Revision and modernization broadband deployment rules to promote and optimize low-cost choices
for updating community-based resources like schools, libraries, hospitals, etc., and
-Creation of an Implementation Advisory Group to execute BDAC recommendations.

The Removing State and Local Regulatory Barriers Working Group advanced nine items to the BDAC
for approval. The approved recommendations for the FCC to consider include:
-Development of a “Broadband Readiness Checklist,”
-Development of a process for states to certify that they are “Broadband Ready,”
-A voluntary, flexible model code template or set of guidelines to speed broadband deployment,
-Requirement that the way fees are calculated by jurisdictions is made public,
-Consider if a third-party mediation and arbitration process would expedite deployment,
-Provide states and local governments education and tools to streamline broadband deployment,
-Encourage industry-funded resources available for local governments to expedite applications,
-Consider funding and certification programs for the education and improvement of local and
state governments regarding the acceleration of broadband deployment activities,
-Creation of an information sharing digital platform for like-minded communities to network

This Barriers Working Group also forwarded three topics for further discussion including:
-Development of an agreement with representatives of local government organizations,
-Provide guidance on what constitutes an excessive, duplicative, unfair or unreasonable fee, and
-Collaborate with local government stakeholders to standardize application processes.

The State Model Code Working Group provided a simple two-page document for a state to use
as a preamble in crafting its own broadband deployment act. BDAC approved the document.
Primarily, it specifies reasons such an act is important (such as to make broadband accessible,
affordable, and in adequate supply), it validates the importance of broadband to the functions of
education, healthcare, agriculture, science, technology, economic development, and all levels of
government, and it offers approaches for a state to achieve optimum utilization of broadband’s
possibilities (such as state support of regional collaborations to support local economic
development, and state policies that promote the availability of high-speed broadband to all
residents and businesses, encourage broadband infrastructure expansion, facilitate creative new
enterprises to launch providing employment opportunities, encourage cooperation between the
public and private sector to expand broadband infrastructure, eliminate barriers to variances in
broadband accessibility between rural and urban areas (known as the digital divide), and full
recognition that investments in communications and infrastructure by state government produce
valuable strategic assets for the population and should be used for the highest and best purposes.

Additional work product of the State Model Code Group offered for BDAC discussion included
model code language for statewide broadband franchising, for accelerating broadband deployment
and investment (elaborating details such as the establishment of a network infrastructure support
register to facilitate accelerated deployment of broadband infrastructure with respect to existing
networks, buildings, poles, ducts, conduits, railroad crossings, and other wireless support structures),
and for economic incentives to encourage broadband deployment in rural areas. The model code for
accelerating broadband deployment and investment (referred to as a standardization index) also
provides for each state to create its own broadband infrastructure commission.

The Municipality Model Code Working Group offered ten guiding principles for its mission to develop
a non-binding, flexible model code guide for over 39,000 local governments to consider regarding
broadband deployment. The principles approved by the BDAC were:
-To assist quick, safe broadband deployment and expansion
-To extend broadband benefits to all communities
-To promote competition, access, and diversity
-To develop guidelines for use of public assets for the best overall outcome of all potential users
-To develop guidelines making broadband implementation predictable while minimizing adverse
impact and maximizing benefits
-To transfer knowledge to local governments to facilitate acceleration of broadband deployment
-To allocate resources and support innovative business models that expand demand for broadband
infrastructure and close the digital divide and
-To encourage innovation, economic development, and job growth and better quality of life
-To encourage compliance with fair labor and safety standards for workers and the public
-To balance the use of public rights-of-way among competing service providers and technologies

With the upcoming meeting of the BDAC next week this may be an opportune time to tune-in on
what’s happening, now. It’s possible that within a year or so we’ll have a whole new way of securing
space rights and local permits. Extensive detail is available at the BDAC’s FCC webpage: that elaborates on the material
summarized. Please feel free to share your comments.

John M. Rowe, COWA Regulatory Chairman, January 18, 2018

COWA BDAC Update Blog 2018-01-18

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