Friday, March 31, 2023

Congressman Brings Forward Public Lands Telecommunications Act to Further Broadband Infrastructure on the North Coast


The following is a press release issued by the Office of United States Congressman Jared Huffman:

[Stock image from]

Today, Representatives Jared Huffman (CA-02) and Ro Khanna (CA-17) re-introduced the Public Lands Telecommunications Act to unlock new opportunities for responsible broadband infrastructure deployment on and near federal public lands. The legislation builds on proven successes of land use fees and gives public land management agencies the power to act as partners to improve connectivity in rural and remote communities.

“The past two years of teleworking, remote learning, and telehealth visits have highlighted how access to high-speed broadband isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity – but there is still a staggering digital divide between rural and urban America,” said Rep. Huffman. “Fortunately, federal land management agencies can do more to close this gap. With the increased authorities, incentives, and resources outlined in my bill, our land management agencies can help expand broadband access in rural and Tribal communities. This bill will break down silos and provide solutions to make sure rural communities don’t get left behind in the digital age.”

“Broadband connectivity is integral to our nation’s economy, bridging the rural divide, and driving innovation. Reliable internet should be available regardless of geography or income. Glad to work with Rep. Huffman to expand responsible broadband infrastructure and bring digital opportunities to communities across the country,” said Rep. Khanna.

“The ability to deploy broadband facilities on Federal lands is absolutely critical to providing service to rural America, and access to public lands continues to be one of the persistent impediments to deployment of ubiquitous wireless connectivity. It only makes sense that fees to do so are limited to actual costs, do not exceed fair market value, and are used by agencies only to support activities related to communications sites on Federal lands,” said Steven K. Berry, Competitive Carriers Association President & CEO. “We appreciate Representative Huffman’s efforts to support deployment on and around Federal lands.”

“Broadband access is an increasingly critical resource for everyday life in the 21st Century, yet the high costs for broadband infrastructure deployment, particularly in rural California, have left many communities unserved or underserved. By increasing funding and resources, this legislation would allow for a much-needed expansion of broadband and telecommunications infrastructure on and near public lands, helping to further reduce the digital divide in California’s rural counties,” said RCRC Board Chair, Nevada County Supervisor Dan Miller.

As of 2020, the federal government found that 22.3% of rural America and 27.7% of those on Tribal land lack access to advanced broadband.

The Public Lands Telecommunications Act would accelerate broadband and telecommunications deployment on and near public lands by:

  • Providing fee retention authority for rights-of-way and other telecommunications infrastructure use authorizations to ensure these funds are reinvested to further broadband and telecommunications deployment;
  • Providing cooperative agreement authority to federal land management agencies for the administration of communications sites to break down funding silos and encourage new federal partnerships.

Rep. Huffman has long been an advocate of broadband expansion on the North Coast. He first introduced this bill in the 115th Congress and has successfully advocated for additional broadband deployment investments in yearly appropriations bills and President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which includes $65 billion to expand broadband in communities across the U.S. During the 115th Congress, Rep. Huffman also introduced the New Deal Rural Broadband Act of 2017, an ambitious plan to connect every American home, business, and school to high-speed, reliable broadband internet that is based on Roosevelt’s New Deal rural electrification model.

The bill is endorsed by NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association, Rural County Representatives of California, and Competitive Carriers Association. Text of the legislation can be found here.



  1. Some may see this as simply giving away valuable land/access to phone companies, but it is a real safety issue. Several times I have tried to use the “Yellow Phones” to help people in those spots where cell coverage does not work at all. In every case, I have had to drive up to ten miles to get cell coverage to help someone. I found a Pickup down a cliff and sitting in the ocean south of elk in one case. I tried to dial 911 and could not get a signal. I ended up driving into Elk and finding the volunteer fire department. When I asked if the “White Pickup down the cliff sitting in the surf just south of town was known to them and had been reported,” they looked at me as if I was from Mars. I was hoping it was an insurance recovery scam and that the fire department was waiting for a wrecker big enough to pull it up the cliff. Sadly there was a deceased person in the truck. It took me 15-20 minutes to report the vehicle, which reduced the chance that anyone was alive or could survive such an accident. We live in a place where First responders are often volunteers and so have to drive to the Fire-house to get their Fire engines or rescue vehicles and then drive on curvy roads to an accident scene. It all takes time. Anything that can reduce the time it takes for medical help to get too injured people is worth important consideration.

    • Spot on
      Not saying it would’ve made a diff in the story you mention but…
      Text to 911 works in Mendo, for a while now.
      Voice calls are preferred but clearly not always possible.

      There are loads of places where a cell call won’t go through but a text will.

  2. I still prefer a land line telephone. The kind that hangs on the wall with a long coiled cord that I can go into the next room and call that roaming.
    I miss the party lines and the operator.
    Too much can go wrong with cell phones and GPS because complex systems only need small failures to cause total collapse.
    Titanic Failure
    Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale
    About one lovely ship
    That ran into an iceberg
    Upon its maiden trip
    Lifeboats were very lacking
    Cause they did not feel the need
    To clog the deck with ugly boats
    Try swimming yes indeed, swimming yes indeed

    Science can make many rich
    When conflicts are resolved
    Just rid the oceans icebergs
    And our problems are all solved, all are solved
    With CO2 and logging crews
    Them billionaires running rife
    While movie stares sell Ponzi sceams
    With a corporate smile
    Douglas Wayne Coulter Feb 2022

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
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