MCNC’s Mark Johnson joins FCC working group

12 Days of Broadband 2017 - Day 5MCNC Chief Technology Strategist Mark Johnson was selected in January to represent the national R&E networking community on a new Working Group within the Federal Communication Commission’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC).

In January, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the formation of this new federal advisory committee that will provide advice and recommendations for the commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access. The BDAC is intended to provide a means for stakeholders with interests in this area to exchange ideas and develop recommendations to enhance the FCC’s ability to carry out its responsibility to encourage broadband deployment to all Americans.

The FCC announced two BDAC Working Groups, and Chairman Pai appointed Johnson to serve as a member of the Removing State and Local Regulatory Barriers Working Group, which is a 25-member group chaired by Robert DeBroux, Director of Public Policy and Federal Regulatory Affairs at TDS Telecom and full member of the BDAC. The other Working Group will focus on Competitive Access to Broadband Infrastructure. Two additional BDAC Working Groups also were announced earlier this year.

Mark Johnson - Chief Technology Strategist, MCNC

“I’m honored to represent MCNC and the nation’s vital research and education networks with this appointment, and I look forward to working with my fellow group members to find ways to best deploy connectivity solutions and advanced broadband Internet into rural areas,” Johnson said in January. “I’m delighted that the R&E networking community will have a voice on this critical issue, and I look forward to getting to work.”

The full BDAC held its first public committee meeting on Friday, April 21. On Nov. 9, after almost a full year’s worth of dialogue, the Working Group offered the following vote recommendations to the full BDAC:

  • The FCC should work, either on its own or via the BDAC, with industry and state/local agencies (or national associations) to develop a broadband readiness checklist.
  • The FCC should either develop or encourage states to develop a process by which localities can certify that they are “broadband ready.”
  • The FCC should finalize, via BDAC, and with industry, states, and local governments that have implemented successful model codes, a voluntary, flexible model code or set of guidelines to speed broadband deployment.
  • The FCC should encourage greater transparency regarding the way fees are calculated by requiring localities to make fee schedules publicly available, along with a brief explanation of how fees were calculated.
  • The FCC should study whether a streamlined mediation and arbitration process administered by a neutral third-party would in fact expedite deployment. 
  • The FCC should explore how to leverage other expert stakeholders to provide localities and states with opportunities for acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to streamline the deployment of new broadband networks. 
  • The FCC should study the establishment of a voluntary pool of experts to which providers can contribute in order to offset a locality’s overtime pay costs, so that applications can be processed expediently where resources are otherwise limited.
  • The FCC should explore funding and certification programs for states and localities to engage in educational and self-improvement activities related to accelerating broadband deployment.
  • The FCC could help to facilitate the creation of an information-sharing hub and/or a digital platform through which similarly situated communities could identify one another and connect.

Johnson’s career encompasses 30 years of leadership experience in the management, engineering, and operations of Internet technologies. During his tenure at MCNC he has been responsible for operating a private microwave network and for a variety of fiber network technologies as a customer and constructor. North Carolina’s varied geography and mix of urban and rural communities means he has encountered all types of technical and regulatory obstacles in broadband technology deployment. And, Johnson has successfully worked with all types of entities in the broadband technology landscape to address these obstacles. He also is a founding board member of The Quilt, a former board chairman, and currently serves as its vice chair.

The FCC intends for the BDAC to operate for at least another year. More on their 2017 work is available here.