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BroadbandNow Says 'Conduit Later' Approach Cost Billions

Deployment advocate BroadbandNow said Congress squandered a chance to cut the cost of broadband buildouts by 90%, and offers some reasons why legislators have seemed not to dig "dig once" bills, at least enough to pass them. 

That came in a newly released research report

Citing a 2012 Goldman Sachs estimate of $140 billion to build out broadband to the entire country, BroadbandNow says its research shows that adopting the dig once policy--long championed by Democratic senator and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar and even longer by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.)-could have cut that figure to $14 billion. 

Dig once is the policy of coordinating highway and road projects with laying fiber conduit. After it failed to pass yet again as part of an appropriations bill, Eshoo this spring reintroduced the Broadband Conduit Deployment Act in the House, a bill that has been kicking around--and she has proposed--in some form for a decade. 

Seems like making sure when highways are dug, conduit for broadband pipes for the info "super highway" should be a no-brainer.  

BroadbandNow posits a couple of reasons. It points out that road construction projects have a history of being expensive and complicated, so adding another mandate creates even more overhead that some public works departments may oppose it despite the obvious long-term benefits for the added overhead. 

The other could be telecom lobbyists working against the deal. But why would they be lobbying against saving money on the buildout? "Not all of these companies are keen to allow their local competitors to gain easy access to robust fiber connections in their most heavily-entrenched [no pun intended] markets," says Tyler Cooper, author of the report, Dig Once: The Digital Divide Solution Congress Squandered And Policy That Could Save $126 Billion On Broadband Deployment

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.