9:40 am – 12:30 pm
Key Legal and Regulatory Issues Affecting Community Broadband Projects
Legal and regulatory issues can profoundly affect community broadband initiatives. At the same time, new federal funding programs may present unprecedented opportunities for community broadband, particularly in rural areas. Drawing on their experience with dozens of community-owned broadband projects of all kinds, Sean Stokes, Casey Lide and Jim Baller of the Baller Herbst Law Group will share their insights on how broadband providers can navigate the key legal issues as productively, painlessly, and inexpensively as possible. Among other things, they will discuss fundamental issues related to the authority to engage in community broadband activities, current state restrictions on community broadband initiatives and how best to address them; complying with applicable federal, state, and local requirements; taking advantage of universal service and other incentive programs; obtaining access to poles and other infrastructure; acquiring video programming and other content; reaching customers in multi-tenant environments; countering predatory or discriminatory actions by incumbents; and much more.
As the FCC and other federal agencies have increasingly come to recognize, access to affordable broadband capabilities is an essential key to economic development, advanced healthcare and education, particularly in rural areas. As a consequence, there is an increased emphasis on exploring all available options to attract new potential broadband providers, including community and consumer-owned broadband providers. Among these initiatives are the FCC’s new rural broadband funding experiments and proactive funding initiatives of the Rural Utilities Service. As part of the workshop these initiatives will be discussed by special guest presenters, Johnathan Chambers Chief of the Office of Strategic Planning & Policy at the Federal Communications Commission, John Claffey of RUS and Hilda Legg former RUS Administrator.
Sean Stokes & Casey Lide – Principals, The Baller Herbst Law Group
Special Guest Speakers:
Hilda Legg – Vice Chair, Broadband Communities; former RUS Administrator
Jonathan Chambers – Chief of the Office of Strategic Planning, Federal Communications Commission
Jon Claffey – Director, Electric Program, Rural Development, USDA