Emerging evidence suggests: next generation broadband networks mean more money for communities. Studies indicate homes connected to fiber enjoy a market value $5,000 greater than equivalent homes limited to just cable and copper. And a recent study showed a $1.4 billion gain in GDP by 14 communities with gigabit-capable broadband networks. There are policies at the state level that encourage the deployment of these networks. Angela Siefer, blogging for the National League of Cities, wrote more about those policies this week.
Take Arizona, for example. State law SB 1402 expands access to the state’s rights-of-way by allowing the Department of Transportation to install banks of conduit in state rights-of-way whenever other maintenance work is being performed in the same location, and then to lease conduit at a cost-based rate. This means private companies can pull fiber through the conduit, and streamline their construction process by eliminating construction permits, environmental and historical studies. Such multi-purpose construction is seen as a low-cost investment that benefits everyone. As CTC Technology and Energy reports, “state officials estimate that the incremental cost of placing the conduit during other construction processes is comparable to the cost of painting stripes on the highway.”
Other states like Vermont, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Oregon have supported faster, more efficient community broadband deployments by new entrants by making poles, ducts or conduits available to any internet service provider. This makes deploying next generation broadband networks cheaper. Relying on a federal statute, the Vermont Public Service Board requires utilities to allow internet service providers access to utility poles for broadband deployments. Massachusetts requires the same pole access for a broader range of communications, including “transmission of intelligence via wireless communication or any television technology,” in addition to cable and telephone and cable services. Tennessee mandates pole access for all video service providers. Oregon requires utilities to allow any entity who needs access to serve its customers to use poles, ducts, and conduits as much as practicable.
Without question, states that can proactively stimulate more local next generation broadband deployments will have a leg up in what the National Broadband Plan describes as “the great infrastructure challenge of the early 21st Century.”