Heller: Federal Agencies are Holding Up Broadband Infrastructure

Heller Wants to Repeat Success of Valley Electric in Pahrump

Washington, D.C. – During a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) discussed Nevada’s challenges with rural broadband access. Specifically, he talked about the barriers to expanding broadband internet infrastructure, especially issues that arise from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Heller spoke about his recent visit to the Valley Electric Association (VEA), located in Pahrump, Nevada, and its success in broadband deployment. After partnering with a Las Vegas technology company called Switch, they were able to run a 1-gig fiber optic line from Las Vegas to Reno. Heller wants to see VEA’s success repeated across Nevada, but BLM continues to hold up applications for projects – preventing them from moving forward and impeding economic growth and job creation in rural communities.

RELATED: Watch Senator Dean Heller discussing challenges with rural Broadband Access and his recent visit to Valley Electric Association and our successful broadband deployment after partnering with Switch 

Building on his efforts from last Congress, Heller remains committed to bringing broadband access to rural Nevadans and was pleased his amendments from last Congress were included in this year’s MOBILE Now Act (S.19).

One of the greatest inhibitors to broadband infrastructure expansion is the time it takes for federal agencies, particularly those that manage federal lands, to act on applications for easements or rights-of-way for constructing or modifying broadband infrastructure on federal property. One of Heller’s amendments would impose a 270-day shot clock for agencies to respond to applications for these specific easements or rights-of-way.

Heller also introduced an amendment to streamline broadband facility location applications on federal lands. Specifically, this amendment requires the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) to develop recommendations, in coordination with federal agencies that manage federal lands, to streamline the broadband facility location application process. NTIA must also follow up with these agencies regarding what actions have been taken in relation to these recommendations.