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Congress Tackles Broadband Deployment

Broadband Deployment

As multifamily communities are increasingly being designed and built with network connectivity in mind, the evolution of broadband is a critical policy priority. Therefore, NAA/NMHC are closely paying attention to the calls by policymakers to boost broadband deployment, especially throughout underserved and rural areas of the country, that have been made frequently in recent years. However, with the possibility of a major infrastructure package being considered this year growing, both the House and Senate are working to lay the groundwork for finally bridging the nation’s digital divide.

This week, the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet of the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing titled, “Rebuilding Infrastructure in America: Investing in Next Generation Broadband.”  The hearing was one of several that the Senate Commerce Committee has held that aim to prepare lawmakers for a potential infrastructure package. So far, they have focused specifically on exploring the most effective and efficient ways to address broadband deployment while reviewing the lessons learned from broadband infrastructure projects funded during the Obama Administration. The most notable takeaway from this week’s hearing was that there was clear, bipartisan agreement around speeding broadband deployment, especially through removing impediments to launching 5G networks across the country. 5G is expected to boost connectivity, speed, and reliability of service for millions of Americans and can be expected to be of great benefit to apartment communities and their residents. 

The Senate hearing builds on progress made by the House on telecom policy. Earlier this month, the House passed a wide-ranging legislative package of telecom proposals. The bill reauthorized the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and included language widely supported in both the House and Senate that aims to free up much-needed spectrum (airwaves) for next-generation 5G networks. The bill also included a provision aimed at requiring states to install broadband infrastructure when building roads and highways. The legislation is expected to be included in the upcoming federal spending package that must pass by March 23, 2018.

Broadband connectivity is increasingly important to the apartment industry for property operations and corporate functions like marketing, revenue management, leasing and maintenance. NAA/NMHC will continue to closely monitor and analyze related telecom developments in the context of their impact on our industry.