The U.S Government Accounting Office (GAO) has found that a federal dig policy will help with the frequency of construction on major highways and the cost of installation, while accelerating access to and reliability of broadband networks.
However, according to the GAO, disadvantages — which could be exacerbated by a requirement to install conduit as part of certain federally funded highway construction — include the potential to install conduit that telecommunications companies might not use and to divert highway funding away from highway construction.
In the report, “Planning and Flexibility Are Key to Effectively Deploying Broadband Conduit through Federal Highway Projects” the GAO noted that affordable access to broadband telecommunications is increasingly viewed as vital to the country’s economic growth as well as for improving state and local systems for traffic management, public safety, and educational goals.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the largest cost element for
deploying broadband via fiber optic cable is the cost of placement, such as burying the fiber in the ground, rather than the cost of the fiber itself. Recent legislation introduced in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives would require the Secretary of Transportation to require states to install broadband conduit during construction for certain federally funded highway projects in compliance with standards developed by the Secretary, in coordination with the FCC.
Both the House and Senate bills would make conduit available to any requesting broadband service provider for a “charge not to exceed a cost-based rate.” Both bills would affect only new construction or highway expansion projects that receive federal funding and would not, for example, affect projects limited to road resurfacing or general maintenance.
The U.S Government Accounting Office (GAO has found that Planning and Flexibility Are Key to Effectively Deploying Broadband Conduit through Federal Highway Projects” in a report by the same name.