Broadband Communications

A soybean farmer using broadband technology with a mobile device tracks crop growth. Photo: United Soybean Board.
A soybean farmer using broadband technology with a mobile device tracks crop growth. Photograph by United Soybean Board.

  • About

    Reliable and affordable broadband communications is fundamental for economic activity, including rural America. Access to high-speed internet is vital for a diverse set of industries, including agricultural production, manufacturing, mining, and forestry, and acts as a catalyst for rural prosperity by enabling efficient, modern communications between rural American households, schools, and healthcare centers as well as markets and customers around the world.

    Executive Order 13821 (EO 13821), Streamlining and Expediting Requests to Locate Broadband Facilities in Rural America, was executed on January 18, 2018. EO 13821 recognizes the divide between connectivity in urban and rural America and tasks Federal agencies with identifying suitable Federal facilities and to create efficiencies in authorization of broadband facilities, communication sites, and related uses. Reclamation, which manages more than 6.5 million acres of land in the 17 Western states, is uniquely positioned to play an integral role in this effort.


    The framework for Reclamation’s use authorization process is detailed in 43 C.F.R. 429, Use of Bureau of Reclamation Land, Facilities, and Waterbodies and Reclamation Manual (RM), Policy, Land Program Management (LND P06) and Directives and Standards (D&S), Land Use Authorizations, (LND 08-01). All requests for use, including applications for telecommunications facilities, follow the same process. All Reclamation staff follow these guidelines to permit telecommunications facilities efficiently and safely on Reclamation lands. If the proposed installation of a telecommunications or broadband facility is compatible with Reclamation Project purpose, Managing and Operating Partners (as applicable), and other rights, the application will be considered for Reclamation’s use authorization process.

    Reclamation is not required to issue a use authorization and will approve or deny the application based on the following criteria:

      1) Compatibility with project purposes;
      2) NEPA analysis;
      3) Compatibility with public interests;
      4) Federal policy and initiatives;
      5) Public health and safety;
      6) Availability of other reasonable alternatives; and,
      7) Ensuring that the use authorization is in the best interest of the United States.

    How to Apply

    If there is interest in developing broadband communications in a rural area, complete the following process:

    1. Please contact the local Reclamation Offices with jurisdiction over your project area.

    2. Complete the Standard Form 299 Application for Transportation, Utility Systems, Telecommunications on Federal Lands and Property and Facilities located at the U.S. General Services Administration's forms site (SF 299 link in upper left navigation).

    Featured Resources
Last Updated: 2/16/22