Yesterday the Obama administration announced the latest policy that it hopes encourages greater deployment of broadband facilities. The policy is centered on providing broadband carriers with data that shows which government properties are available for access in order to deploy an antenna or run cable.
Last year there was some chatter out of the administration about granting providers a right-of-way in easements held by the federal government along its highways and interstates. With a mapping feature, broadband providers can identify roof tops for placing antennas. For example:
“An interactive mapping tool that allows carriers and communities to view and identify opportunities to leverage Federal properties for the deployment of high-speed Internet networks. For example this map can help the wireless industry identify Federal rooftops where commercial antennas can be placed to support wireless networks. The national map includes data on broadband availability, environmental or historic information, property locations, and contact information so companies can easily obtain more information. The map was built with open government data, displayed in a new way to make it easier for carriers to take advantage of Federal assets in planning or expanding their networks.”
According to the executive order upon which the initiatives are based, the Administration believes the social goal of expanding broadband to all American households can be facilitated by providing the broadband sector with data on existing opportunities for placing facilities. With 10,000 buildings and 30% of all land under federal ownership, it appears that the Administration believes making the private sector aware of these spaces will lead to greater broadband availability for consumers.
The Administration did mention some operational costs savings to a broadband provider. For example, the “Dig Once” initiative allows carriers to time their deployment activities to coincide with an ongoing road or highway construction. The Administration estimates cost savings on deployment at a rate of 90%.