FCC chair Pai announces broadband committee

By:
James Pearce
Published on:

Advisory committee will look at ways to accelerate the deployment of high-speed internet access across the US

New Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai is to form a federal advisory committee aimed at accelerating the deployment of high-speed internet access.

Pai, who took the reins at the US regulator last month, said the committee will look at removing regulatory barriers to help speed up broadband deployment across the US.

The Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee will tackle issues including reforms of the FCC’s pole attachment rules; identifying regulator barriers to broadband deployment that could be deemed unreasonable; and encouraging local governmental bodies to adopt deployment-friendly policies.

“Access to broadband is increasingly critical for all Americans, no matter who they are or where they live,” said Pai, who was appointed by President Donald Trump.  “It’s becoming the 21st-century gateway to jobs, health care, education, information, and economic development everywhere, from the smallest town to the largest city.  That makes it imperative for us to remove regulatory barriers to the deployment of high-speed Internet access.”

The committee will be formed of a “diverse set of stakeholders”, the FCC claimed, including representatives of consumer and community groups, the telecoms industry, and officials from all levels of government.

The first task for the committee, which is expected to hold its first meeting in Spring, will be to draft a model code covering local franchising, zoning, permitting, and rights-of-way regulations.

Pai is expected to shake up the US telecoms industry, given his strong views on a number of policies enacted by predecessor Tom Wheeler, who stepped down on 20 January. He was a staunch opponent of net neutrality rules, and has supported big money mergers within the telecoms industry.