Curtis: ‘People are itching for reliable broadband service’

U.S. Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) recently sponsored bipartisan legislation that would require federal agencies to review broadband infrastructure permits on federal rights-of-way within a reasonable time period and to establish a fair licensing fee to build out broadband infrastructure on federal land in rural and tribal America. 

“In many of the rural communities that I am privileged to represent, people are itching for reliable broadband service,” Rep. Curtis said. “The problem is that they are hamstrung by Washington, D.C., bureaucrats who are completely disconnected from the realities that millions of Americans face and especially when it comes to broadband availability.”

Rep. Curtis on June 17 introduced the Accelerating Rural Broadband Deployment Act, H.R. 3970, with original cosponsor U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) to increase internet access in rural America by easing some of those regulatory burdens, according to his office.

“Mr. O’Halleran and I both represent very similar districts geographically and both share parts of the Navajo Reservation, which lags in its technological capabilities but not due to a lack of trying,” said Rep. Curtis. “Sensible, bipartisan and cost-effective reforms such as these will ensure that every parent, student, patient, healthcare provider, and business owner has reliable internet access that is needed to succeed in the digital age.” 

If enacted, the legislation would specifically grant federal agencies the ability to approve a license of occupancy authorizing the deployment of all equipment required to deploy broadband service on a federal right-of-way, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Curtis’ office.

Additionally, H.R. 3970 would create a 30-year licensing agreement with the opportunity for occupants to automatically renew this license and would require each federal agency to establish licensing fees based on a set of market conditions, the summary says.

Federal agencies would be required to respond to a broadband permit request within 60 days of receiving the request and provide an explanation of denial if the request is denied, and permits would be automatically approved after 60 days if the agency has not reviewed the application, according to the summary.

The measure has been endorsed by NTCA — The Rural Broadband Association; USTelecom — The Broadband Association; and NCTA – The Internet and Television Association.