E&C subcommittee passes Obernolte’s broadband bill

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology on May 17 approved legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-CA) that would improve broadband access for America’s rural and federally land-locked communities, including his California congressional district. 

“It is critical that we continue to find ways to increase access to broadband internet in our rural communities, particularly where surrounding federal land ownership has complicated broadband deployment,” Rep. Obernolte said. 

The Granting Remaining Applications Not Treated Efficiently or Delayed (GRANTED) Act of 2023, H.R. 3340, which Rep. Obernolte proposed on May 15, passed the subcommittee as part of a larger rural broadband deployment package and full E&C Committee consideration is expected soon.

According to a bill summary provided by the congressman’s staff, the federal government manages a large swath of land across the United States through the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which are responsible for reviewing and approving applications for broadband deployment on federal property with a 270-day deadline.

If enacted, H.R. 3340 would incentivize faster approval of applications to place broadband infrastructure on federal land by granting automatic approval of any application still pending following the current 270-day deadline, the summary says.

“By enforcing the 270-day shot clock already in place, we can ensure that applications for rural broadband deployment on federal lands receive timely reviews and the expeditious consideration they are due,” said Rep. Obernolte.