President Trump: Give Private Broadband Companies Access To Public Lands

January 09, 2018

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Jan. 8 to increase broadband access in rural America. The order directed the Interior Department to allow private high-speed broadband companies to build equipment on public lands.

The Interior Department manages the majority of land in some western states. The move is expected to make it more affordable and accessible to provide broadband in those rural areas.

About 23 million people lack access to broadband in the United States, according to the FCC. Neil Broyles, spokesman for the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, said that includes many Navajos.

“It is time consuming and difficult to get property on the Navajo Nation,” Broyles said. “So I don’t know if President Trump could change that or not since the Navajo Nation is a sovereign nation.”

Trump’s executive order comes without funding. The last time the area saw any investment in broadband was in 2014 when the Obama Administration awarded the Navajo Nation a $32 million grant to build a fiber optic network and several towers.