President Barack Obama announced Monday the creation of the Broadband Opportunity Council, which engages more than 25 government agencies to study how broadband can be delivered more effectively and identify barriers that impede competition.
Co-chaired by the Commerce and Agriculture departments, the council will work with the Federal Communications Commission and report back to the president within 150 days with the results of their analysis, as well as recommendations for regulatory actions and budget proposals, according to a press release.
“These steps will build on and expand several actions agencies have already taken during this Administration, such as developing a common application form for wireless broadband providers to lease space for their rooftop antennas, sharing of best practices for ‘dig once’ policies by state and municipal governments nationwide, and offering new online tools for finding and leasing federal assets available for broadband networks,” the release says.
In June, the White House will host a Community Broadband Summit to keep the public up to date with more details about increasing broadband access.
Obama said his administration’s goal to provide 4G mobile broadband to at least 98 percent of residents has been reached nearly two years ahead of schedule. More than 174,000 miles of high-speed broadband infrastructure have been installed or upgraded to date, including in rural areas.
The FCC has made modernizing its E-Rate program, which pays for Wi-Fi access and infrastructure for qualifying schools and libraries, a major priority this year. The deadline for schools and libraries to submit applications for funding, which was capped at about $4 billion, has been moved from March 26 to April 16 to give applicants more time to navigate the system.