WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman Greg Pence (IN-06) introduced H.R. 1069, the Streamlining Permitting to Enable Efficient Deployment of Broadband Infrastructure (SPEED) Act, to reduce federal red tape on rural broadband deployment.

The SPEED Act would cut down on the duplicative federal environmental and historic preservation review process, thus streamlining the process and making modern broadband capabilities more accessible to rural communities like those in Indiana’s Sixth District.

“Connecting our rural communities and modernizing broadband for Indiana’s Sixth District has always been one of my top priorities. The difficulties posed by COVID-19 have demonstrated just how crucial it is that we close the digital divide. Reliable rural broadband ensures Hoosiers have access to tele-health care, online schooling and tele-work capabilities,” Congressman Pence said. “We must cut federal red tape and streamline permitting processes so that entire rural communities are not left behind. The SPEED Act brings us one step closer to modern, accessible rural broadband without the burden of bureaucratic red tape.”

This bill is part of Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans’ comprehensive package of 28 bills that aim to streamline the deployment of broadband infrastructure. This Broadband Connectivity Agenda aims to turbocharge public and private investment by promoting new and upgraded infrastructure deployments, boosting competition, streamlining permitting processes, facilitating broadband deployment on federal lands, and closing the digital divide in both rural and urban areas.

The SPEED Act:

  • Would exempt broadband facilities from federal environmental and historic preservation reviews that have already granted approval for another communications facility on the same property.
  • Would exempt broadband facilities that meet certain parameters from federal environmental and historic preservation reviews in existing rights-of-way.
  • Would exempt expansion of broadband facilities from federal environmental and historic preservation reviews if the expansion of the broadband facility is no more than 30 feet in any direction.

Rep. Pence has been a vocal advocate for the modernization of rural broadband for Indiana’s Sixth District, urging support for rural communities in Coronavirus legislation negotiations and introducing legislation in the 116th Congress to improve rural broadband access for Hoosiers. This legislation, the Broadband Interagency Coordination Act, was included in the Bipartisan-Bicameral Omnibus and COVID Relief Package that became law on December 27, 2020.

- Information provided 

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