Today, Representatives David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-W.Va) and Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) announced the introduction of the Nationwide Dig Once Act of 2020, legislation to expand the deployment of broadband internet service to rural and unserved communities across the U.S. The legislation was adopted by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) as part of H.R. 2, the INVEST in America Act.
The Nationwide Dig Once Act of 2020 builds on H.R. 2692, the Broadband Conduit Deployment Act, legislation reintroduced last year by McKinley and Eshoo which 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.
"Across the country many rural communities lack broadband internet service. Having reliable high-speed internet is critical in today's time, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic where homes are turned into offices and classrooms. Dig Once just makes sense. It will ensure deployment of high-speed internet quicker and more efficiently. As we work to close the digital divide in West Virginia and across the country, this is a positive step in the right direction," said Rep. McKinley.
"Tens of millions of Americans across the U.S. still lack basic access to high-quality broadband internet service. This is simply unacceptable in 2020," said Rep. Eshoo. "Access to high speed internet service is essential in the 21stCentury, particularly as Americans are conducting more of their personal and professional lives online during the COVID-19 public health emergency. After working for over 10 years to advance a nationwide Dig Once policy, I'm pleased to see it move through the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as part of the surface transportation reauthorization legislation. I thank Chairman DeFazio and all committee members for their support of this legislation."
The Nationwide Dig Once Act of 2020 requires the following:
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.
Reps. McKinley and Eshoo introduced H.R. 7205, the Nationwide Dig Once Act of 2020 on June 15th. The legislation was adopted by T&I as section 1603 of H.R. 2, the INVEST in America Act.
Full text of the legislation is available here.