Democrats ask GAO for price tag on "dig once" fiber installation initiative

A number of House Democrats would like to get a better understanding from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) how much money would be saved on building out new broadband networks by adopting a "dig once" policy where fiber cables would be installed when new U.S. highways are built.

In May, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) introduced the Broadband Conduit Deployment Act. This act would mandate that fiber conduit would be installed whenever a new federal highway was built.

Initially co-sponsored by other representatives including Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), the act now has the support of 18 additional co-sponsors. The cable industry has also given their support of the act.

One of the main points that Eshoo and the original co-sponsors cite is the FCC's argument that the biggest cost of any fiber network is digging trenches to lay conduit along areas like highways. In addition, the FCC theorizes that running fiber through existing conduit costs three to four times less than running it through aerial telephone lines.

"Given the scale of the federal government's funding of highway construction, we believe the installation of conduit in these projects could greatly facilitate the deployment of broadband networks," Eshoo said in the letter.

For more:
- The Hill has this article

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