Government Accountability Office, Transportation: Planning and Flexibility Are Key to Effectively Deploying Broadband Conduit through Federal Highway Projects (GAO-12-687R) (June 27, 2012) (full-text).
Affordable access to broadband telecommunications is increasingly viewed as vital to the country's economic growth as well as for improving state and local systems for traffic management, public safety, and educational goals. According to the FCC, the largest cost element for deploying broadband via fiber optic cable is the cost of placement, such as burying the fiber in the ground, rather than the cost of the fiber itself. Recent legislation introduced in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives would require the Secretary of Transportation to require states to install broadband conduit during construction for certain federally funded highway projects in compliance with standards developed by the Secretary, in coordination with FCC. Both the House and Senate bills would make conduit available to any requesting broadband service provider for a "charge not to exceed a cost-based rate." Both bills would affect only new construction or highway expansion projects that receive federal funding and would not, for example, affect projects limited to road resurfacing or general maintenance.
Congress requested that The GAO examine proposed federal "dig once" policies that would require the deployment of broadband conduit in conjunction with federally funded highway construction projects as a way to decrease the costs of deploying fiber and eliminate the need for multiple excavations. This report presents information on (1) the advantages and disadvantages of dig once policies and (2) how the broadband deployment experiences of states and localities that have implemented dig once policies can inform the consideration of a federal dig once policy.