May 3, 2011: Cost-Saving Broadband Deployment Bill

Washington, D.C. – Today Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, introduced the Broadband Conduit Deployment Act of 2011. Original cosponsors are House Energy & Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). This commonsense legislation would require the inclusion of “broadband conduit” – plastic pipes which house fiber-optic communications cable – during the construction of federal highways.

“New data points to broadband still not being deployed in a ‘reasonable and timely’ manner across the United States.  This legislation is a creative approach to more rapidly deploy broadband service, promote competition, and do so with limited federal dollars,” Rep. Eshoo said. “This ‘dig once’ policy would expand broadband at a fraction of the cost by including the conduit as roads are being built.”

The Federal Highway Administration estimates it is ten times more expensive to dig up and then repair an existing road to lay fiber, than to dig a channel for it when the road is being built or repaired.

Rep. Markey said, “Broadband networks are as important to our country's economic success as the interstate highways of the past. Unfortunately, the United States has fallen behind other nations in terms of broadband deployment and adoption.  Rep. Eshoo’s important legislation will help us work smarter, not harder, as we seek to increase deployment of high-speed Internet access to communities across the country.  It wisely mandates the placement of broadband conduits when the ground beneath a roadway is exposed as federal highways are constructed.  This will save time and money while lowering barriers to deployment and increasing investment and competition for broadband.  I commend Rep. Eshoo for this excellent bill and look forward to supporting it as it moves through the legislative process.”
“The Broadband Conduit Deployment Act will vastly improve our nation’s telecommunications infrastructure that will encourage greater broadband deployment and create jobs,” said Rep. Matsui, a member of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.  “In the digital age, investing in our nation’s broadband infrastructure is essential to reducing barriers and keeping America globally competitive.”

“There’s nothing more important to 21st century economic growth and competitiveness than universal access to affordable broadband Internet,” said Rep. Woolsey.  “Our nation can’t afford a digital divide.  We need to have a strong telecommunications infrastructure that reaches every American and every American community.  That’s why it’s important that we pass the Broadband Conduit Deployment Act.”

The Broadband Conduit Deployment Act of 2011 has been referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.