President Obama on Monday signed a Presidential Memorandum formally creating a Broadband Opportunity Council, to be co-chaired by representatives from the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The Broadband Opportunity Council includes 25 federal agencies and departments that will engage with industry and other stakeholders to understand ways the government can better support the needs of communities seeking broadband investment. It also will help identify regulatory barriers impeding broadband deployment or competition, and take steps to remove such barriers.
Secretary Vilsack will represent the USDA. Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling has been appointed by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to serve as Commerce’s representative on the council.
The NTIA has been a major force in helping to bring broadband to areas of the country where service was either limited or non-existent through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, funded initially by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and now through the new BroadandUSA initiative.
“At NTIA, we have seen firsthand how essential broadband is to schools, public safety, health care, businesses and most other sectors of society,” said Strickling. “The interagency effort the council is undertaking will help marshal the resources of multiple federal agencies to promote opportunities to advance broadband deployment and adoption across the country.”
The council will report back to the president within 150 days with the steps each agency will take to advance these aforementioned goals, including specific regulatory actions or budget proposals.
Resource: White House Fact Sheet (Next Steps in Delivering Fast, Affordable Broadband)
In January, the president traveled to Cedar Falls, Iowa to announce his plan to promote “Broadband that Works,” a public-private effort to help more Americans, in more communities around the country, get access to fast and affordable broadband. Making good on the vision outlined in his State of the Union Address means promoting investment and rewarding competition while trying to reaching the national goal of providing 98 percent of Americans with access to high-Speed, mobile Broadband.
To carry forward the momentum, help communities leaders learn from one another, and report out the progress of recent broadband initiatives, the White House will in June host the Community Broadband Summit. Details will follow soon at WhiteHouse.gov.