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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 26, 2004

Broadband Rights-of-Way Memorandum
April 26, 2004


SUBJECT: Improving Rights-of-Way Management Across Federal

Lands to Spur Greater Broadband Deployment

Broadband, also known as high-speed Internet access, has the potential to bring new services and products to American consumers and businesses, fostering innovation, investment, and job-producing economic growth. My Administration has long recognized the economic vitality that can result from broadband deployment and is working to create an environment to foster broadband deployment. All Americans should have affordable access to broadband technology by the year 2007.

A key to widespread broadband deployment is ensuring that broadband providers have timely and cost-effective access to rights-of-way so that they can build out their networks across the Nation. These networks often need to cross large areas of land owned or controlled by the Federal Government. Thus, effective and efficient Federal rights-of-way policies and practices are critical for promoting broadband deployment.

To ensure that the Federal Government's rights-of-way policies and practices facilitate the aggressive deployment of broadband networks, my Administration created a Federal Rights-of-Way Working Group composed of representatives from most of the major Federal agencies with land management responsibilities. The mission of the Working Group was to identify and recommend changes in Federal policies, procedures, regulations, and practices that would improve the process of granting rights-of-way for broadband communications networks on lands under Federal jurisdiction.

Based on information gathered from the communications industry, the Federal agencies, state, local, and tribal representatives, and other stakeholders, the Working Group has produced a report entitled, "Improving Rights-of-Way Management Across Federal Lands: A Roadmap for Greater Broadband Deployment," which sets forth specific recommendations in four main areas.

(1) Information Access and Collection -- to streamline and

standardize applications to reduce the administrative burden and

costs on broadband providers.

(2) Timely Process -- to speed Federal agencies' consideration of

rights-of-way applications.

(3) Fees -- to ensure that fees charged by Federal agencies are reasonable and appropriate.

(4) Compliance -- to ensure that Federal agencies have the proper

tools to promote compliance with rights-of-way grants or permits.

These recommendations are designed to assist Federal agencies in efficiently and effectively performing their vital role as stewards of the public lands, while working cooperatively with industry to spur broadband deployment.

Therefore, I hereby direct the heads of executive departments and agencies (agencies) to take appropriate actions to implement the specific recommendations contained in the report to the maximum extent practicable and as permitted by law.

In addition, agencies should review their existing policies and procedures and identify any additional ways to improve the process for granting rights-of-way for broadband communications networks. Agencies should report to me, through the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, within 1 year of the date of this memorandum on all actions taken. The agencies shall take these actions using existing budget authority.


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