Federal legislation that promises to increase rural access to broadband internet appears to have a rosy outlook. Originally proposed by California Democrat Anna Eshoo in 2009, the so-called "dig once" policy would "mandate the installation of fiber conduits during federally funded highway projects," according to Ars Technica.
As the title of the legislation suggests, the advantage of these projects comes in the form of savings on future digging. Although the highway conduits may not be immediately fitted with broadband fiber, there won't be a need for expensive construction projects dedicated solely to creating space for fiber.
Here's everything you need to know about this promising policy.
No More Stalling
Though it stalled in 2009, Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn put the proposal on the agenda for a hearing with the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, which she heads.
Indeed, the idea seems to have bipartisan support. Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, a Republican from Oregon, said he was glad to see the legislation making a reappearance, and FCC chairman and Republican Ajit Pai has also voiced his support.
In the past, much of the opposition to "dig once" practices has come from large telephone and cable companies (and sympathetic Congressional officials), which typically build their own infrastructure. These companies would prefer smaller competitors not have access to freely available conduits. However, time appears to have changed those opinions.
CTIA, an advocacy group that represents the nation's largest mobile carriers — including AT&T and Verizon Wireless — has come out in support of "dig once." Plus, Steven Berry, CEO for Competitive Carriers Association, who represents nearly 100 smaller wireless carriers, told Congress that it's time to "establish 'dig once' policies, once and for all."
A Nationwide Information Highway
Already the law of the land in cities like Boston and San Francisco, the implementation of "dig once" could mean the introduction of broadband to rural areas that might otherwise remain underserved.
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With people increasingly relying on the internet for everyday tasks like banking and shopping, a nationwide fiber network seems inevitable. It's no wonder that ISPs are now getting on board, as federally funded conduits will save them money in the long run.
What do you think, readers? Would you like to see the government get behind fiber internet? Or do you think ISPs should keep providing their own infrastructure? Sound off in the comments below!