Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) issued the following statement today after the White House announced an Executive Order implementing a "dig once" policy similar to her Broadband Conduit Deployment Act of 2011 (H.R. 1695) introduced last year:
"Broadband networks are critical to our country's economic success by facilitating job creation, new business growth, and connectivity to important Internet services, such as online classrooms, health IT, and smart grid technology. Much like my 'dig once' proposal, this Executive Order will help bring broadband to underserved communities nationwide and with limited federal investment. This is a commonsense idea, and I salute the Administration for taking action."
The Executive Order includes a requirement for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide guidance to states and encourage their implementation of a "dig once" policy. Adoption of the policy by the DOT would encourage the inclusion of "broadband conduit"--plastic pipes, which house fiber-optic communications cable--during the construction of federal highways. 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.
In addition to her legislation, Rep Eshoo has pressed on other fronts to see adoption of a "dig once" policy. Last year she requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) further consider the benefits of a dig once program, including specific costs, the extent to which carriers avail themselves to these facilities, and the extent to which this policy would divert funds from highway construction. The results of this GAO study are expected in the coming weeks. And in a letter to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood last December, Rep. Eshoo urged him to administratively implement a "dig once" policy, similar to her bill.