Sending Office: Honorable Anna G. Eshoo
Ensuring that all Americans have access to quality and affordable internet service must be a top priority for our country. Despite gains made, over 21 million Americans still lack access to broadband. That’s why we’ve reintroduced H.R. 2692, the Broadband
Conduit Deployment Act of 2019 to help lower the cost of deploying broadband infrastructure and spur build-out in areas that need it.
Our commonsense, bipartisan legislation would mandate the inclusion of conduit—plastic pipes which house fiberoptic cables—during road construction receiving federal funding if there is a demonstrated need for broadband in the area within the next 15 years.
This policy eliminates the need to dig up roads to install conduit for fiber at a later date, a costly undertaking. We call it a ‘dig once’ policy.
By including conduit during road construction, communications providers will be able to install fiberoptic cables at far less cost and avoid tearing up our roads. ‘Dig once’ is especially important in rural areas where broadband is needed, but economic incentives
for private infrastructure investment are lower.
The cost savings are significant. The Federal Highway Administration estimates it’s ten times more expensive to dig up an existing road for conduit than to include it during road construction. A GAO study found that a ‘dig once’ policy can save 25 to 33
percent in construction costs in urban areas and 16 percent in rural areas. In the 2019 book
Fiber, Harvard Law Professor and telecommunications expert Susan Crawford endorses ‘dig once.’
Last year, a preliminary version of the policy was part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, requiring states to begin the process of analyzing the need for conduit. The
Broadband Conduit Deployment Act of 2019 provides the needed next step of
requiring the inclusion of conduit in federally-funded road construction.
Investing in robust broadband infrastructure is about all communities having access to high-quality internet for access to modern healthcare, education, and jobs. Ultimately, this is a matter of economic necessity in a globally-connected, competitive marketplace.
Anna G. Eshoo David B. McKinley, P.E.
Member of Congress Member of Congress
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