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ACA Applauds Eshoo’s Broadband Conduit Bill

The American Cable Association applauded introduction of House legislation that would require the installation of broadband conduit in road construction projects funded with federal money, in an effort to reduce or eliminate below-surface digging by communications companies that intend to deploy fiber optic cables or similar Internet-access infrastructure.

The bill, known as the Broadband Conduit Deployment Act of 2011, was introduced by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, with support from Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).

"ACA strongly supports Rep. Eshoo's broadband deployment bill, which will not only reduce the cost of laying thousands of miles of fiber optic lines for business but also stretch the impact of scarce road-construction dollars provided by taxpayers. I'd call that a true win-win for industry and American progress," American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka said.

A requirement to install plastic conduit for broadband could produce large savings. Eshoo cited Federal Highway Administration (FHA) estimates that it is ten times more expensive to dig up and repair an existing road to lay fiber than to dig a channel for it when the road is being built or repaired.

Eshoo, who introduced the bill on May 3, said the measure was referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, which has primary jurisdiction over federal road projects and spending.

In a statement, Eshoo stressed that a "dig once" policy was a commonsense response to data showing that broadband is not being deployed in a reasonable and timely throughout the country.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, President Obama's fiscal 2012 budget includes $70.5 billion in FHA funds to rebuild the country's roads and bridges.

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