March 16, 2017 —
Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Steve Daines (R-MT) and Deb Fischer (R-NE), have introduced a bill to streamline broadband infrastructure permitting in existing highway rights-of-way (ROW), known as the Highway Rights-of-Way Permitting Efficiency Act of 2017.
“This much-needed legislation helps rural broadband providers by streamlining the deployment of broadband infrastructure across federal lands. It will save Utahns precious time and resources and will also ensure that our state remains a national leader in providing broadband services,” Hatch said.
The legislation appears to have the same goals as the FCC’s current small cell declaratory ruling proceeding. The senators explain that rural broadband providers deploying broadband infrastructure in highway ROW suffer from duplicative federal permitting laws and regulations that causes project delays and cost-overruns. Approval may be needed from multiple agencies, including: the Federal Highway Administration, state departments of transportation, the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service. The measure aims to remove some of those barriers.
Fischer said, “This legislation takes critical steps to streamline the permitting process for new broadband infrastructure projects. By reducing red tape, we can help more Nebraska families access broadband services.”