Broadband bill links deployments to federal highway projects

A bipartisan group of senators introduced a "Streamlining and Investing in Broadband Infrastructure Act" that will use a "dig once" policy to link broadband deployment to federal highway projects. According to a Federal Highway Administration estimate about 90 percent of the cost of deploying fiber comes from digging up and replacing roads.

The Act, which is supported by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., is intended to ensure that states will install broadband infrastructure at the same time they are constructing new highways, eliminating roadblocks for companies, states and local governments that want broadband infrastructure installed on federal lands.

The legislation is intended to improve the deployment of broadband, particularly in rural America and other unserved communities by establishing a standard fee for leasing agreements that occur when companies are installing, constructing and maintaining a communications facility. Specifically, the law tells federal agencies in possession of federal government property or infrastructure to grant a real property interest to applicants, which may include states, wireless carriers or other organizations seeking to install communications facilities.

Broadband providers such as Google Fiber (NASDAQ: GOOG) have called for a more streamlined permit process to get necessary rights-of-way for deploying fiber to cities. The company has complained that getting rights-of-way to utility poles in local towns and cities is a very complex and time intensive process.    

 For more:
- See this Law360 article (sub. req.)
- See this press release

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