Congress sends highway conduit bill into the slow lane

28 November 2015 by Steve Blum
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Broadband conduit won’t be getting a fast track into federal highway projects. A bill sponsored by Silicon Valley congresswoman Anna Eshoo would require broadband considerations, and conduit in particular, be included in the planning that states do for federally funded highway construction.

The easy way to get it done would have been to include the language in this years’ highway funding bill, which is a must pass piece of legislation. Eschoo tried to do that, but was rebuffed. So now it has go back into the house of representatives’ labyrinth of committees, where it has twice died before.

This time around however, there’s more reason to be optimistic. According to the Morning Consult newsletter all of the FCC’s commissioners – democrat and republican – are behind the bill, as are key industry players…

Will Rinehart, director of technology and innovation policy at the American Action Forum, said industry stakeholders and advocates all support Eshoo’s ‘Dig Once’ legislation. “I don’t think there’s a battle in this,” Rinehart said in an interview. “I think everyone generally agrees on what needs to happen”…

The private sector and think tanks in the policy space are also fans of the bill. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association, AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications, the Consumer Technology Association, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, and Tech Freedom have all released statements supporting Eshoo’s legislation.

According to Morning Consult, Eshoo’s bill has to be approved by both the house’s transportation and infrastructure committee and the energy and commerce committee, which inevitably includes detours through sub-committees. And that’s just to get it to the house floor, where it would have to be approved and then, potentially, sent through the same legislative gauntlet in the senate. Since no one seems to be in any rush, it could be this time next year before we know its fate.