Daines, Klobuchar, Gardner Introduce Legislation to Expand Broadband Infrastructure

Legislation would increase broadband deployment by cutting red tape for companies, states, and local governments that want to install broadband infrastructure on federal land and promotes the simultaneous installation of underground broadband conduit during the construction of federal transportation projects 

Yesterday the president of the Wireless Infrastructure Association announced his support for this important legislation at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senators Steve Daines (R-MT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) have introduced bipartisan legislation to expand broadband infrastructure. 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 underground broadband conduit during federal transportation projects.

“Not only does access to broadband connect rural Americans and tribal communities to the rest of the world, but there are many broadband dependent farming applications that will enable Montana farmers to be more efficient and equip them to feed our growing population,” Daines stated. “Making effective use of existing resources and streamlining these processes are essential to continue broadband deployment in rural America. This bill would make it easier for providers to lay the groundwork for broadband, taking an important step toward connecting our unserved communities.”

“Access to high-speed internet is essential to compete in today’s global economy,” Klobuchar stated. “Yet as I travel around Minnesota and our country, 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 so that more Americans have access to high-speed internet no matter where they live.”

“Access to broadband is access to the modern economy,” Gardner stated. “This bill would make federal construction projects more efficient by encouraging simultaneous construction of transportation and broadband infrastructure. In addition, the bill would build on my efforts to encourage faster deployment of broadband infrastructure on federal lands. Continued rural economic development depends on expanded broadband internet access, and I’m proud to support this effort to ensure that expansion happens.”

“This bipartisan bill will strengthen America’s capacity to meet the demands of consumers across the country for better and more complete wireless coverage,” said Wireless Infrastructure Association President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein, who announced his support for the legislation at yesterday’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing. “America’s economic and technological growth depends on reliable access to mobile data, which means greater deployment of cutting edge wireless facilities. These are difficult issues, but the legislation offers practical ways forward that reduce redundancies when deploying the backbone of our wireless world, whether along our rights of way or bringing service to federal lands and rural communities.”

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 percent 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.