"Dig Once" is More Useful to Some Than to Others

In principle, it is helpful to some communications service providers when conduit suitable for installing new optical fiber cable already is in place. That is the attraction of “dig once” policies that install conduit whenever other construction projects are undertaken.

That is the thinking behind a ”dig once bill introduced in the U.S. Congress. Of course, the measure balances “more” value for future potential Internet service or app providers and less value for users of federal highways, since the cost of installing the conduit means “less highway.”

That will be deemed a reasonable tradeoff in many instances, with the greatest value if the conduit is laid along important and recognized routes useful for path-diverse long haul transport, or passing population centers or other sites where close access to long haul facilities is useful.

The conduit will have less value if it merely is installed along existing long-haul routes where conduit already exists, or where there is little incremental demand that cannot be met by already-installed cables.

“Who” benefits also will be an issue. Incumbent suppliers of capacity--with no capacity constraints--on those routes will not necessarily welcome potential new competition. Potential new suppliers will get the advantage.
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