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To Expand Rural Broadband, Reduce Barriers To Entry

October 21, 2016

City Street InfrastructureEarlier this week, the Coalition for the New Economy highlighted the advice of Internet industry expert Larry Downes, who suggested one of the best ways to promote private sector broadband investment is to reduce regulatory barriers to entry.

In testimony before the Joint High-Speed Broadband Communications Access for All Georgians Study Committee earlier this month, Comcast South Vice President of External Affairs offered Peach State lawmakers the same advice. According to Watchdog.Org, “Macke said reducing regulations and costs would help ‘drive the investment’ of ISPs [Internet Service Providers] into rural regions …” Macke also recommended reducing taxes and fees and streamlining access to utility poles, and said it is essential that cities and counties ask their residents what they want and also complete demand aggregations “so ISPs know which areas are most likely to need better service.”

Other ISPs also testified before the study committee about their efforts to extend broadband access into the Georgia’s least populated areas. According to Watchdog, “The committee heard presentations that offer some hope for free-market solutions to some of the rural broadband gap — including putting more satellites in orbit to provide more bandwidth and installing antennas along utility poles to beam signals along power lines — a technology that AT&T recently announced it plans to test …”

Members of the study committee, which is comprised of ten state lawmakers (five each from the statehouse and senate), acknowledged that the cost of providing broadband access in very rural areas is high. Parsons suggested the federal government consider offering tax incentives and credits “to help the private expansion of broadband into rural and low-income communities.” Parsons noted that he had reached out to Federal Communications Commission member Ajit Pai, a supporter of such tax incentives, to discuss the option.