Earlier this week a Erika Nelson, from Klobuchar’s office, spoke about Dig Once at the Minnesota Broadband Task Force. The concept was well received by providers, community leaders and others in the room. We heard a few examples of how a little foresight was able to save some big money because new building was able to take advantage of existing fiber, rather than trench for new infrastructure. One good question was about who bears the cost of the conduit – but even on short notice some ideas for financing the investment were suggested…
Announcement comes after Klobuchar and Warner called on Administration to take immediate action on their provisions to reduce cost of installing broadband, save taxpayer dollars, and help American businesses stay competitive in the global economy
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mark Warner (D-VA) today announced that their proposal to promote more rapid and cost-effective expansion of broadband networks has been advanced by an Executive Order from the President. The announcement comes after Klobuchar and Warner sent a letter to President Obama calling on the Administration to take immediate action and include the initiatives in their bill, the Broadband Conduit Deployment Act, in the Executive Order accelerating broadband infrastructure deployment. The initiative promotes the simultaneous installation of underground broadband conduit with federal transportation projects, helping to expand high-speed Internet for consumers and small businesses. In other words, “dig once.”
“In order to compete in the 21st century economy, we need to be deploying 21st century technologies that are the infrastructure backbone of tomorrow,” Klobuchar said. “This Executive Order advancing our goal to ‘dig once’ will help ensure that high-speed broadband can be supplied as quickly and efficiently as possible, saving money and reducing unnecessary construction headaches.”
“This Executive Order will help bring broadband to underserved communities nationwide while saving both money and time with limited federal investment,” Warner said. “This is a commonsense idea, and I’m pleased the Administration is moving forward with this initiative.”
The Federal Highway Administration estimates that 90 percent of the cost of deploying broadband is for digging up and repairing the road. That means it is 10 times more expensive to add broadband after a road is already built than to install it in the first place. Broadband conduits are the “pipes” which house tiny fiber-optic cables that carry high-speed, high-capacity communications.
The Executive Order directs federal agencies to help carriers time their broadband deployment activities to periods when roads are already under construction, which is similar to Klobuchar and Warner’s “dig once” proposal. The senator’s Broadband Conduit Deployment Act would require states to simultaneously install broadband conduits as part of certain federal transportation projects, including projects such as building a new highway or adding a new lane or shoulder to an existing highway. The legislation allows this requirement to be waived when the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Communications Commission determine that the conduit is not necessary.
Klobuchar is a leader in Congress on promoting widespread broadband access and increasing America’s competitiveness in the global economy. She is a member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, and serves as chair of the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation, and Export Promotion.