Trump's Broadband Executive Orders Receive Mixed Reviews

The Trump administration signed two executive orders to increase broadband access for rural communities, but there are questions about their effectiveness.

by Susan Gentz / February 21, 2018
President Trump recently created two executive orders that aim to increase access and opportunities to rural communities by expanding and deploying broadband.
One executive order, Streamlining and Expediting Requests to Locate Broadband Facilities in Rural America, states, “It shall therefore be the policy of the executive branch to use all viable tools to accelerate the deployment and adoption of affordable, reliable, modern high-speed broadband connectivity in rural America, including rural homes, farms, small businesses, manufacturing and production sites, tribal communities, transportation systems, and healthcare and education facilities.”
The onus of implementation is left to the agencies: “Executive departments and agencies should seek to reduce barriers to capital investment, remove obstacles to broadband services, and more efficiently employ Government resources.”
According to the White House, this executive order will “streamline the installation process by requiring agencies to use standardized forms and contracts for installing antennas on federal buildings, thus improving process efficiency.”
The second broadband executive order, Supporting Broadband Tower Facilities in Rural America on Federal Properties Managed by the Department of the Interior, “was issued with the intent of lowering the costs of broadband deployment to rural areas and the belief that it can strengthen the business case for broadband facilities deployment and therefore amplify investments in broadband infrastructure. To that end, the executive branch will seek to make Federal assets more available for rural broadband deployment, with due consideration of national security concerns.”
So far, the responses have been mixed. Some believe that this will help broadband deployment in rural areas, while some believe that the executive orders are fine, but will have virtually no impact on the deployment of broadband. The executive orders do not appear to provide any funding for these changes, and some argue that companies in the space are already doing more on this front than the executive orders. The true question is, will these executive orders spur access and opportunities for rural areas, or are they just talking points for the administration?