‘Dig Once’ Bill Makes Second Appearance

Would mandate broadband conduit accompany road work in broadband-free zones

Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and David McKinley (R-Was.) have rebooted their “dig once” broadband deployment effort as the Nationwide Dig Once Act of 2020.

The pair introduced H.R. 2692, the Broadband Deployment Act last May but it never got past the introduction phase.

The 2.0 version of that bill, which was unveiled this week, “mandates the inclusion of broadband conduit – plastic pipes which house fiber-optic communications cable – during the construction of any road receiving federal funding in areas that lack access to broadband internet service.”

Related: Reps Eshoo, McKinley Introduce “Dig Once” Broadband Bill

It is just the latest in a series of attempts to kill two birds–new broadband and road infrastructure–with one shovel, as it were. Eshoo has been pushing for dig once legislation for more than a decade, while Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has pushed just as hard from that side of the Hill.

The new bill:

“Establishes a process for states to notify broadband providers of federally-funded highway construction that may present opportunities for coordinating installation of broadband infrastructure;

“Requires the installation of broadband conduit if a provider has not committed to deploy conduit as part of a federally-funded construction project; and

“Establishes a task force co-chaired by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and the National Telecommunications and Information Administrator to consider and propose methods to fund the nationwide dig once policy.”

The bill has been added as a section of the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 2) transportation infrastructure bill.