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By GCN Staff

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White House toolkit helps deliver federal broadband

The Obama administration made expansion of broadband networks one of its top technology agenda items in the belief that access to fast Internet connections would drive economic development, especially in rural and low-income communities.

A key piece of the strategy was to lower barriers for broadband providers to build out networks on federal property, roads and rights of way. And there’s a lot of land available: the federal government owns nearly a third of all property in the United States, on which sits about 10,000 buildings, according to a notice on the White House blog.

Last week the administration made available a set of tools to help companies choose sites to set up high-speed Internet access, particularly in underserved communities. The tools include:

An online mapping tool that displays all General Services Administration-owned buildings and lands, including contact information for assistance, and pointers to where commercial antennas might be best situated.

The map has interactive features highlighting information to help locate such sites, including the location of National Parks and other protected wilderness areas. 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.

Another tool, the “dig once” guide, includes tips and policies for helping telecom carriers schedule broadband and network installations at the same time. According to the guide, coordinating close timing of network construction projects can cut costs by 90 percent.

The administration has also set up a “permitting dashboard” that can make it easier for companies to locate and complete paperwork surrounding a broadband project, including construction permits, lease agreements and other broadband application materials.

GSA is working to prepare a single master application for deploying broadband on federal land, which would help streamline the process for wireless and wireline network builds. The Agriculture Department has a similar streamlining tool under development, according the White House.

In the next few weeks, the White House said, it would also launch an online broadband projects tool, to be located on the Transportation Department’s Federal Infrastructure Projects Permitting Dashboard, to help agencies identify their broadband projects and track their status for the public.

Posted by GCN Staff on Sep 24, 2013 at 11:36 AM


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