The federal government is expected to pass a "Dig Once" law now the US House of Representatives approved the measure and the bill is predicted to pass the Senate.
Under this law, fiber conduit must be installed during most federally funded road construction projects, thereby reducing the cost and time for adding fiber. US Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) has been a long-time advocate of Dig Once legislation, originally filing a measure in 2009 and resubmitting the bill over the years. (See Get 'Dig Once' Out of Its Rut.)
Dig Once legislation -- formally known as the "Broadband Conduit Act of 2017" -- was included in the passage of
Ray Baum's Act, which reauthorized the Federal Communications Commission.
Under the ruling, states must evaluate the need for broadband conduit as part of any funded highway project, working with local and national telecom providers -- both service and equipment providers. If the evaluation deems broadband conduit under hard surfaces may become necessary within 15 years, then the project must add the fiber conduit, the legislation says.
"Dig Once will make it easier for states and broadband providers to enter new and underserved markets by laying the broadband conduit during construction of roads," Eshoo said in a statement. "This will reduce costs drastically and increase access for communities across the country."
The administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration will determine the appropriate number of broadband conduits to be installed along a highway to accommodate multiple broadband providers and ensure each conduit's size is consistent with best practices and can meet potential demand -- again, determined by the administrator, the legislation spells out.
In addition, each conduit will include adequate hand-holes and manholes for fiber access and fiber-pulling, placed at industry-standard intervals.
Broadband providers gain access to each conduit "on a competitively neutral and nondiscriminatory basis, for a charge not to exceed a cost-based rate," the legislation notes.
Conduit locations will, within at most a year, become part of the National Broadband Map.
— Alison Diana, Editor, UBB2020. Follow us on Twitter @BroadbandWN or @alisoncdiana.