(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Steve Daines (R-MT), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have introduced bipartisan legislation to expand broadband infrastructure.
According to Klobuchar’s office, the Streamlining and Investing in Broadband Infrastructure Act would increase broadband deployment by cutting red tape for companies, states, and local governments who want to install broadband infrastructure on federal land and promotes the simultaneous installation of broadband conduit during federal transportation projects.
“Access to high-speed internet is a basic requirement to compete in today’s global economy,” Klobuchar said. “Yet as I go around Minnesota, I hear from community leaders, residents, and businesses who are in urgent need of reliable broadband. This critical bipartisan legislation would help improve the deployment of broadband infrastructure at a lower cost so that more Americans have access to high-speed internet no matter where they live.”
The Streamlining and Investing in Broadband Infrastructure Act would ensure states simultaneously install broadband conduits as part of certain federal transportation projects that involve constructing a new highway or adding an additional lane or shoulder — known as “dig once.” The bill establishes a “standard fee” to streamline leasing agreements involving the installation, construction and maintenance of a communications facility by instructing agencies in possession of federal government property or infrastructure to grant a real property interest to applicants, which may include states, wireless carriers, or other organizations seeking to install communications facilities.
“Dig once” is essential to expanding our broadband infrastructure because the Federal Highway Administration estimates that 90% of the cost of deploying broadband consists of digging up and replacing the road. This means that it is ten times more expensive to install broadband conduit alone instead of installing it along with road repairs. Also, broadband conduit installations currently add to the number of road construction projects, creating more traffic congestion. Further, streamlining the siting process for wireless infrastructure on federal land will make deployment in underserved areas easier.
Klobuchar has also championed policies to encourage partitioning or disaggregating spectrum licenses to facilitate leasing unused spectrum to rural and smaller carriers and encouraging collaboration between companies to bridge service gaps in rural areas. This bipartisan provision was included in the MOBILE NOW Act when it passed the Senate in August.