Broadband Communities

JAN-FEB 2012

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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BROADBAND POLICY 'Dig Once' Speeds Broadband Deployment Cities and states can reduce fiber optic deployment costs by requiring conduit be laid when roads are built or repaired. By Kate McMahon ■ Applied Communications "D ig once" is a simple principle: Either pay a little extra up front or pay a lot more later. Putting all the utilities in the ground at the same time is cheaper in the long run than digging up a road a second or third time to install utilities later. Transportation projects are routinely designed around this principle. City administrators realize that replacing aging water lines and sewer pipes or burying electric utilities during road construction is cost-effective because it eliminates the need to open a trench for costly repairs in the future. However, when it comes to deploying fiber optic infrastructure, "dig once" is still not standard policy. Te Federal Highway Administration estimates that digging up and repairing an existing road to lay fiber is 10 times more expensive than digging a channel when the road is built or re- Several members of Congress have introduced bills to implement dig once policies, but these bills have not been passed. paired. Although adding fiber optic conduit or cable adds only 1 to 2 percent to the cost of a project and represents minimal up-front capital outlay, there is still a surprising amount of re- luctance to adopt "dig once" policies for fiber optic deployment. 'DIG ONCE' POLICIES Te FCC National Broadband Plan recognizes the many ad- vantages of joint trenching and includes the following policies to promote this practice: Recommendation 6.7: Te U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) should make federal financ- ing of highway, road and bridge projects contingent on states' and localities' allowing joint deployment of con- duits by qualified parties. APRIL 24 – 26 • INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL – DALLAS Don't miss Kate McMahon's presentation in the Modern Right- of-Way Management session at the Broadband Communities Summit in Dallas, April 24–26. Recommendation 6.8: Congress should consider enacting "dig once" legislation applying to all future federally funded projects along rights-of-way (includ- ing sewers, power transmission facilities, rail, pipelines, bridges, tunnels and roads). To implement these recommendations, U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., introduced legislation in 2009 to require the inclusion of broadband conduit during the construction of federal highways. Te bill did not advance out of commit- tee and was reintroduced in the last session as the Broadband Conduit Deployment Act of 2011. In June 2009 and December 2011, Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., introduced similar legislation in the Senate. Te General Accounting Office is pre- paring a report on the fiscal impact and other issues regarding the implementation of the bill. In the meantime, Rep. Eshoo sent a letter to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood urging him to ad- ministratively implement a "dig once" policy. About the Author Kate McMahon is a founding partner of Applied Communications, a Montana-based consulting firm that provides land-use planning, broadband planning and strategic planning for towns and community organizations. You can contact her at kate@appcom.net. 60 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2012

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