Press Releases

Klobuchar, Warner Introduce Legislation to “Dig Once” for Broadband Information Superhighway

Legislation would reduce cost of installing broadband, give businesses tools they need to create jobs and stay competitive in the global economy

Dec 05 2011

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced legislation to promote more rapid and cost-effective expansion of broadband networks that carry high-speed, high-capacity communications. The Broadband Conduit Deployment Act of 2011 would bring common sense and efficiency to the broadband deployment process by requiring certain federal transportation projects to include the simultaneous installation of underground broadband conduits. In other words, “dig once.” The legislation would help expand access to high-speed Internet access for small businesses and save money for businesses that are investing in broadband infrastructure.

“Whether in our cities, suburbs or rural communities, access to broadband is essential for our students to learn and our businesses to stay competitive in today’s global economy,” Klobuchar said. “Our legislation will help ensure that this critical infrastructure will be built as quickly and efficiently as possible, saving money and reducing unnecessary construction headaches.”

“One of the keys to our nation’s economic competitiveness depends on increasing the reach of high-speed Internet access, especially into rural regions of our country,” said Warner. “Connecting our communities to broadband networks will help improve the quality of education for our children and allow our businesses to be competitive.”

The Federal Highway Administration estimates that 90 percent of the cost of deploying broadband is for digging up and repairing the road. That means it is 10 times more expensive to add broadband after a road is already built than to install it in the first place. Broadband conduits are the “pipes” which house tiny fiber-optic cables that carry high-speed, high-capacity communications.

The Broadband Conduit Deployment Act of 2011 would require states to install broadband conduits as part of certain federal transportation projects. This would include projects such as building a new highway or adding a new lane or shoulder to an existing highway. The legislation allows this requirement to be waived when the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Communications Commission determine that the conduit is not necessary.

Klobuchar is a leader in Congress on promoting widespread broadband access and increasing America’s competitiveness in the global economy. She is a member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, and serves as chair of the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation, and Export Promotion. She recently wrote a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski urging the FCC to promote rural broadband deployment through reform of the Universal Service Fund (USF), which the agency subsequently adopted.