Interior Launches New Effort to Facilitate Broadband Development in Rural America

Website & tools will increase access to broadband internet deployment on Federally-managed lands

Last edited 09/29/2021

Date: February 13, 2019

WASHINGTON –In response to President Trump’s strategy to enhance broadband access in rural America, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) launched a new effort today designed to increase broadband internet access on federally-managed lands. The report and accompanying website provide information on communications uses and existing assets that can be leveraged to expand services for rural and underserved communities throughout the United States through the bureaus and agencies within the Department.

The Department’s initiative comes in response to a January 8, 2018, Presidential Memorandum to the Department of the Interior entitled Supporting Broadband Tower Facilities in Rural America on Federal Properties Managed by the Department of the Interior. The memorandum directed the Department to develop a plan to support rural broadband development and to identify those assets necessary for both deployment and adoption of these services.

“As a native of the small town of Rifle, Colorado, I know firsthand how important it is for rural communities to have to access to reliable and fast broadband services,” said Acting U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “Interior manages nearly one fifth of the surface acreage in the United States, much of which encompasses rural areas, and therefore has an important role to play in permitting broadband infrastructure. I applaud the President’s leadership on this issue and the impact it will have to increase educational opportunities for children in rural schools as well as helping small, rural businesses reach broader markets.”

Interior’s website will feature the Department’s report “Connectivity in Rural America, Leveraging Public Lands for Broadband Infrastructure” which outlines the Department’s plan and potential solutions to both improve and streamline the permitting process. The Department’s site also includes an innovative new mapping tool: the Joint Overview-Established Locations (JOEL) map. The JOEL map, hosted by the Bureau of Land Management in coordination with agencies, identifies existing communications infrastructure located on federally managed lands as well as agency contact information, enabling greater insight into colocation opportunities. The Department will continue to work with partner agencies and stakeholder groups to further develop the map for greater accessibility.

The Department of the Interior, through its various bureaus and agencies, is responsible for the permitting of communications sites and transmission lines on nearly 500 million acres of federal lands. By creating the JOEL map, Interior is providing user-friendly information that can be used to expand broadband services to currently underserved areas, and streamline the permitting process to provide the best service to the American people.

For more information on DOI’s broadband initiatives, please visit:

For more information from our Federal partners, please visit

Was this page helpful?

Please provide a comment