Caltrans floats “Dig Smart” ideas to put more broadband conduit in the ground

10 March 2020 by Steve Blum
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California’s department of transportation, AKA Caltrans, is a step closer to actively collaborating with broadband service providers and local governments to put more conduit in California’s thousands of miles of state highways and make it available. It published a Dig Smart white paper that summarises “dig once” policies that have already been adopted by cities and other states. Those policies are intended to ease the way for telecoms companies to install conduit when road construction or utility excavation projects happen, and to encourage them to take advantage of the opportunity.… More

Caltrans backs off requiring extra conduit in highway projects, but broadband cooperation door still open

11 August 2018 by Steve Blum
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Caltrans updated its “user guide” for installing broadband infrastructure into highway projects. The big change is the elimination of a shadow conduit requirement – telecoms companies that take advantage of opportunities to install facilities in highway projects are no longer obligated to install extra conduit and fiber for Caltrans, at their own expense.

On the whole, it’s not a killer change. The more independent broadband infrastructure in the ground – Caltrans is nothing if not independent – the better.… More

Caltrans opens the road for broadband projects

12 February 2018 by Steve Blum
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California highway projects are now broadband projects too. Or can be. Caltrans wrapped up development of standard rules and procedures for adding third party conduit to highway construction projects, and published a guide for “Wired Broadband Stakeholders”. It covers “partnering”, which is adding a separate, third party trench to a road project, and “co-location”, which involves Caltrans and a third party both installing conduit in a Caltrans trench.

There are limits on who can participate.… More

Caltrans agrees to add conduit to highway projects

23 April 2017 by Steve Blum
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Slow is a lot better than Stop.

More broadband conduit might be going into California highway projects over the next few years. A deal was struck between a north coast assemblyman – Jim Wood (D – Healdsburg) – and Caltrans: Wood drops his current effort to write conduit obligations into law, and Caltrans promises to rewrite its policies to be more accomodating to broadband infrastructure. According to a press release from Wood’s office…

“Caltrans has been a willing participant in discussions during the past two years as we have tried to move the needle on expanding Californian’s access to broadband,” said Wood.


Caltrans open trench notification bill signed by governor

26 September 2016 by Steve Blum
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California governor Jerry Brown signed assembly bill 1549 on Friday, which means it will be law as of New Year’s Day. Authored by assemblyman Jim Wood (D – Healdsburg), the bill requires Caltrans to let everyone who is interested know when there might be an opportunity to install broadband conduit in a highway construction project…

During the project planning phase of a department-led highway construction project that was initiated on or after January 1, 2017, is parallel to the highway, and involves construction methods that are suitable for installing broadband conduit, the department shall notify companies and organizations working on broadband deployment of the project on its Internet Web site to encourage collaborative broadband installations.


Governor Brown contemplates a stack of broadband decisions

13 September 2016 by Steve Blum
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Say yes to the trench.

Although it isn’t as high or as deep as originally hope, governor Brown has a significant pile of broadband-related bills that he’ll have to work through by the end of the month.

My favorite is assembly bill 1549 by assemblyman Jim Wood (D – Healdsburg). It started out as an ambitious attempt to bring Caltrans around to the idea that fiber and conduit are transportation infrastructure too. It won a series of unanimous votes as it moved through the legislature, but in the end it was considerably trimmed back to satisfy Brown, who was more accepting of Caltrans’ opposition to the bill.… More

Caltrans buries dig once conduit bill

24 August 2016 by Steve Blum
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Too much work.

Under a veto threat from governor Brown, a bill that would have required Caltrans to cooperate with, and even participate in, broadband infrastructure development has been trimmed back to the point where it’s largely symbolic. Not completely: as currently drafted, assembly bill 1549 would still require Caltrans to allow all interested parties – independent Internet service providers and local governments included – to add conduit to state highway construction projects…

For the purpose of supporting fiber optic communication cables, after receiving notification from the department, a company or organization working on broadband deployment may collaborate with the department to install a broadband conduit as part of the project.


Caltrans shovels hard to avoid digging once

11 August 2016 by Steve Blum
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Proceed with caution.

The only opposition so far to a bill that would require Caltrans to cooperate with broadband projects and notify companies and local governments when opportunities arise to install conduit is coming, not surprisingly, from Caltrans itself.

Assembly bill 1549 by Jim Wood (D – Healdsburg) has so far sailed through the California legislature unanimously. But with the bill sitting in the senate appropriations committee, the final stop before a full floor vote, the state finance department is pushing Caltrans’ bizarre argument that it’s not needed because its record keeping is so screwed up that fixing it would only make it worse…

Caltrans does not keep a complete and up-to-date inventory of all existing conduits within its existing right-of-way.


Californian telecoms policy decisions slide out of public view in Sacramento

4 August 2016 by Steve Blum
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Affairs of state.

Several broadband-related bills pending in the California senate were sent to the suspense file by the appropriations committee this week. That’s a standard maneuver that keeps them on ice until near the end of August when the session ends. At that point, a small group of legislative leaders will decide which will move forward and which will not.

A proposal to prevent lifeline telephone customers from switching carriers is one of the bills that’s on hold.… More