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Rural Broadband Notes Dont be a FOOL; The Law is Not DIY

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Rural Broadband Access Solutions

Federal Activity

In the 2008 Farm Bill,1 Congress directed the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (Commission), in coordination with the Secretary of Agriculture, to submit a report to Congress describing a comprehensive rural broadband strategy.2 On May 22, 2009, Acting Chairman Michael J. Copps delivered to Congress the 2009 Rural Broadband Report .3 The report recommended new policies to deliver broadband to rural areas and restore economic growth and opportunity for Americans residing and working in those areas. Congress also required the Commission's Chairman, in coordination with the Secretary of Agriculture, to "update and evaluate" the rural broadband report during the third year after enactment of the 2008 Farm Bill.4 In this Public Notice, we seek comment from all interested parties on how best to update and evaluate the 2009 Rural Broadband Report .

The 2009 Rural Broadband Report identified a number of challenges typically affecting rural broadband, including technological issues, high costs, and lack of data. The report made a number of recommendations, including enhancing coordination among and between federal, Tribal, state, and community agencies, governments, and organizations; reviewing existing federal programs to identify barriers to rural broadband deployment; coordinating broadband data collection and mapping efforts; and supporting consumer education and training initiatives aimed at stimulating and sustaining broadband demand. The report also identified a number of policy areas and proceedings where Commission action could support broadband deployment and adoption.

There have been many broadband-related developments since the release of the 2009 Rural Broadband Report . Many of these developments result from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), in which Congress provided new direction and support for federal broadband policies and initiatives. For example, the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) were authorized to spend $7.2 billion in funding to expand access to and adoption of broadband services in communities across the United States. 5 In addition, the Commission released a National Broadband Plan that sets out an ambitious agenda for connecting all corners of the nation with the communications network of the future and has initiated many proceedings that are consistent with that agenda.6

In light of these and other developments, we seek comment on how to update and evaluate the 2009 Rural Broadband Report . What actions have the Commission and other federal agencies taken since the 2009 Rural Broadband Report that impact or enhance broadband deployment and adoption in rural areas? Have improvements in federal broadband data collection fostered rural broadband? We ask commenters to identify any actions or changes that should be reflected in our update and evaluation of the 2009 Rural Broadband Report , including any additional measures that would improve access to rural broadband deployment and adoption. We encourage interested persons to submit relevant data and analyses regarding broadband deployment and adoption in rural areas. 7Finally, we welcome comment on the extent to which the recommendations in the 2009 Rural Broadband Report have been implemented.

Interested parties may file comments on or before March 2, 2011 . When filing comments, please reference GN Docket No. 11-16 .

Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-246, § 6112, 122 Stat. 923, 1966 (2008) (2008 Farm Bill).

The 2008 Farm Bill required that the rural broadband strategy include recommendations: (A) to promote interagency coordination of Federal agencies in regards to policies, procedures, and targeted resources, and to streamline or otherwise improve and streamline the policies, programs, and services; (B) to coordinate existing Federal rural broadband or rural initiatives; (C) to coordinate both short- and long-term needs assessments and solutions for a rapid build-out of rural broadband solutions and application of the recommendations for Federal, State, regional, and local government policymakers; and (D) to identify how specific Federal agency programs and resources can best respond to rural broadband requirements and overcome obstacles that currently impede rural broadband deployment. 2008 Farm Bill § 6112(a)(1). The 2008 Farm Bill further required "a description of goals and timeframes to achieve the purposes of the report." Id . at § 6112(a)(2).

Acting Chmn. Michael J. Copps, FCC, Bringing Broadband to Rural America: Report on a Rural Broadband Strategy (2009) ( 2009 Rural Broadband Report ), attached to Rural Broadband Report Published in the FCC Record , GN Docket No. 09-29, Public Notice, 24 FCC Rcd 12791 (2009).

2008 Farm Bill § 6112(b).

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-5, § 6001(k)(2)(A), 123 Stat. 115, 516 (codified at 47 U.S.C. § 1305(k)(2)(A)). The NTIA and RUS websites summarize the progress of the Recovery Act programs to expand broadband. See, e.g. , BroadbandUSA-NTIA, ; USDA Rural Development-UTP BIP Program Resources, .

Omnibus Broadband Initiative (Obi), FCC, Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan , GN Docket No. 09-51 (2010) (National Broadband Plan), available at .

Parties may wish to supplement their comments with data and analysis from the National Broadband Map that NTIA intends to post on the web by February 17, 2011. See 47 U.S.C. § 1305(l).

Definitions of Rural



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