Congress needs to put “pedal to the metal” and remove any obstacles the federal government might have placed in the way of speeding delivering of broadband service nationwide, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) told the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology yesterday. The committee was in session in the Rayburn House Office Building for another in its series of “Breaking Down Barriers to Broadband Infrastructure Deployment.”
Fellow committee member Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) stressed the importance of getting broadband service “to the unserved and underserved in our country.” She also took a moment to push the “Dig Once” legislation she, Upton and fellow committee member Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) co-sponsored last week that requires broadband to be installed along all new federal highway projects as “just common sense. It will save taxpayers money.”
The subcommittee convened the hearing to discuss current deployment of broadband services and to better understand the challenges to deploying infrastructure to support wireless and wireline broadband. Witnesses Heather Burnett Gold, president and CEO, FTTH Council Americas; Jeb Benedict, vice president, Federal Regulatory Affairs/Regulatory Counsel, Centurylink; Scott Bergmann, vice president, regulatory affairs, CTIA; and Deb Socia, executive director, NextCentury Cities; testified about the significant investment required to dig trenches for fiber or to construct towers for wireless facilities. The National Broadband Plan noted that access to conduits, ducts, poles and rights-of-way on public and private land comprises a significant portion of the costs of deploying broadband.
Eshoo encouraged the committee to combine as many as five pending pieces of broadband legislation into one and to do whatever is possible to open federal lands to “erecting poles” to ease construction of the information highway.