A bipartisan group of U.S. senators on Tuesday introduced legislation that would require broadband infrastructure pathways to be installed as part of certain federal highway projects.
The policy, known as “dig once,” aims to accelerate the development of high-speed internet, particularly in rural areas.
The Streamlining and Investing in Broadband Infrastructure Act, authored by Sens. Steve Daines, R-Mont., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., would also establish a “standard fee” to facilitate broadband infrastructure siting.
The fee would cover leasing agreements for telecommunications projects or grant a real property interest to states, wireless carriers or other parties hoping to build on federal property.
“Rural Montanans need access to high-speed internet to support local jobs and compete in the 21st century economy,” Daines said in a statement. “We cannot let government regulations stand in the way of the 41 percent of rural Montanans who still lack access to high-speed broadband.”
Previous “dig once” legislation was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee in 2016 but did not receive a vote in the full Senate last session.
“This important bipartisan legislation would provide a common sense and efficient approach to building out enhanced broadband networks and wireless connectivity for American consumers,” Kelly Cole, SVP for Government Affairs at wireless group CTIA, said in a statement.
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