Reducing Construction Barriers to Broadband Solutions

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One of the most interesting sections of the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) requires that states must define how they are going to make it easier for grant recipients to implement broadband solutions. Specifically, the BEAD NOFO requires states to try to "reduce costs and barriers to deployment, promote the use of existing infrastructure, promote and adopt dig-once policies, streamlined permitting processes and cost-effective access to poles, conduits, easements, and rights of way, including the imposition of reasonable access requirements." These are all great ideas, but I have to wonder if whoever wrote that understands how hard it is for a state to change any of these policies. Certainly, there is no state broadband grant office with the power to effectuate any of these changes – is this section of the NOFO aimed at legislatures? While I understand the sentiment behind this requirement, I think that state broadband offices are all going to tell the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) that these issues are not under their control. I find it a bit ironic that the NTIA wants states to take steps to make it easier and more affordable to build fiber while the NOFO layers on a lot of requirements that significantly inflate the cost of building a BEAD grant network.

[Doug Dawson is president of CCG Consulting.]

Reducing Construction Barriers