Accelerating Broadband Deployment (NOI)

Status: Accepting public comment

Docket Number

WC Docket No. 11-59


On April 7, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission opened an inquiry into how the Commission can work with other government entities and the private sector to improve policies for access to other physical spaces where wired and wireless broadband can be deployed, including roadways and other rights of way, and locations for wireless facilities. This sets the stage for further acceleration of broadband deployment in the future.

The FCC’s Notice of Inquiry builds on the record begun during the FCC’s February 9 Broadband Acceleration Conference and the work of the Commission’s Technological Advisory Council. Other FCC efforts to accelerate broadband deployment include streamlining access to utility poles, speeding wireless tower siting with a “shot clock,” and unleashing more spectrum for broadband.

The FCC seeks a detailed record of the nature and scope of broadband deployment issues, including both best practices that have promoted deployment and matters that have resulted in delays. The Commission is most interested in systemic practices rather than individual or anecdotal situations, which are less suited for federal policies. So that it might have a factual basis upon which to determine the nature and extent of any problems, the FCC asks commenters to provide it with information on their experiences, both positive and negative, related to broadband deployment. In the case of comments that name any state or local government or Tribal or federal entity as an example of barriers to broadband deployment, we strongly encourage the party submitting the comments to name the specific government entity it is referring to, and describe the actions that are specifically cited as an example of a barrier to broadband deployment, as this is the best way to ensure that all affected parties – the relevant governmental entity, citizens and consumer groups, and other private parties that have sought access in the area – are able to respond to specific examples or criticisms. Identifying with specificity particular examples or concerns will ensure that the Commission has a complete understanding of the practices and can obtain additional background if appropriate. In turn, the FCC asks government entities to explain the policy goals underlying their current practices and charges regarding rights of way and wireless facilities siting. The FCC seeks to identify best practices, systemic challenges and fully consider possible steps the Commission can take, in partnership with federal, state, local, and Tribal governments—with input from consumer groups and industry—to foster improvements in these areas.

The Notice explores specific steps that could be taken to identify and reduce unnecessary obstacles to obtaining access to rights of way and siting wireless facilities. For example, should the Commission:

  • Identify and promote best practices and increased uniformity with respect to public rights of way and wireless facilities siting practices and policies?
  • Make specific recommendations for action to Congress and the Administration?
  • Sponsor voluntary mediation of public rights of way or wireless facilities siting disputes between state or local officials and industry?
  • Adopt policy guidelines, adopt rules, or adjudicate rights of way cases, under section 253 or 332 of the Communications Act?



The FCC asks commenters to describe the specific kinds of public rights of way and wireless facilities siting issues that exist in each of these areas:

  1. timeliness and ease of the permitting process;
  2. the reasonableness of charges;
  3. the extent to which ordinances or statutes have been updated to reflect current communications technologies or innovative deployment practices;
  4. consistent or discriminatory/differential treatment;
  5. presence or absence of uniformity due to inconsistent or varying practices and rates in different jurisdictions or areas;
  6. other rights of way concerns including “third tier” regulation or requirements that cover matters not directly related to rights of way use or wireless facilities siting.

Comment due date: 07/18/2011

Comment reply due date: 08/30/2011