When we broke ground on Google Fiber in our first group of cities, we ran shovel-first into the old saying that “you never know what you’ll find until you start digging.” Literally, because geological data hasn’t been fully collected in most communities. In early 2014, we created the Google Fiber City Checklist to help cities address this problem by cataloging key data assets ahead of any buildout. While our checklist has helped cities become more fiber-friendly, it doesn’t cover the countless impediments that might be encountered when laying down fiber.
On Monday, the White House released a report drafted by the twenty-five agencies of the Broadband Opportunity Council, outlining specific actions, incentives, and regulatory processes that the federal government can undertake to accelerate broadband deployment and adoption in the United States.
The White House report focuses on four particular areas that are of vital importance and were reflected in the hundreds of comments that the Department of Commerce received back in June:
1. Modernizing federal programs to expand program support for broadband investments. (e.g. expanding USDA and HUD grant programs to include broadband).
2. Empowering communities with tools and resources to attract broadband investment and promote meaningful use. (e.g. the provision of BroadbandUSA best practices, guides, and technical support to cities).
3. Promoting increased broadband deployment and competition through expanded access to Federal assets. (e.g. the DOT creation of a broadband rights-of-way policy for broadband on federal highways, agency-level implementations of “Dig Once” policies, etc.).
4. Improving data collection, analysis and research on broadband. (e.g creating an online data inventory of federal broadband assets).
As we wrote back in June, “The U.S. shouldn’t settle for less than ubiquitous, abundant broadband access” and there is still more work to be done for the U.S. government to successfully implement policies that can make the U.S. fiber ready, wireless ready, and consumer ready.
We see firsthand how the power of abundant broadband access can empower and uplift local communities, and we know people all around the country want to see their government work on what matters to them, modernizing infrastructure and expanding their opportunities. It’s great to know that 25 federal agencies as diverse as the Department of Agriculture, Small Business Administration, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, will now do more to prioritize broadband abundance.
The Broadband Opportunity Council report, its objectives, and timelines are an excellent starting point toward action that will focus that leadership and move forward on enabling broadband for all Americans in the months and years ahead.