Dig Once Bill would lower cost of fiber and broadband by up to 90% and has bipartisan support

Broadband Conduit Deployment Act of 2017 is being discussed at the The House Communications Subcommittee. President Donald Trump plans a trillion dollar infrastructure package that will almost certainly include broadband.

If the US adopts a “dig once” policy, construction workers would install conduits just about any time they build new roads and sidewalks or upgrade existing ones. These conduits are plastic pipes that can house fiber cables. The conduits might be empty when installed, but their presence makes it a lot cheaper and easier to install fiber later, after the road construction is finished.

The dig once bill requires states to evaluate the need for broadband conduit any time they complete a highway construction project that gets federal funding. Conduit must be installed if the evaluation, done in consultation with local and national telecom providers and equipment makers, “reveals an anticipated need in the next 15 years for broadband conduit.” Projects should include enough conduits “to accommodate multiple broadband providers,” the bill says.

Dig once doesn’t have to be just for state and federal projects, as cities such as Boston and San Francisco already require it locally.

The tiny cost of installing conduit (about 1 percent in added costs) pales in comparison to the taxpayer burden of unnecessary digs, traffic congestion, and the opportunity cost of not having high-speed networks that both help support public services and grow the economy.

The policy can cut broadband costs by up to 90 percent.

SOURCES- US Government, Ars Technica

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