"Dig Once" Policies

Community Broadband Playbook

Top Takeaways

  • “Dig once” policies provide ready-made buried conduit, enabling future providers to more easily and cheaply install fiber by threading it through existing conduit.
  • Installing empty conduit which is relatively inexpensive during construction projects supports future expansion by substantially lowering the expense of digging for providers.

One way to reduce costs is to install conduit – narrow pipes with no actual fiber optic cable housed within – during local construction projects. The county, city or town can install fiber optic conduit with minimal financial investment, while also upgrading or repairing water or sewer pipes, or repairing or building roads and sidewalks, for example.

The conduit itself is relatively inexpensive, so that installing conduit for later use can save providers literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in construction costs.

Otherwise, the broadband provider must usually dig trenches or bore through soil to lay install conduit, an extremely expensive endeavor, especially in western North Carolina, where providers often must bore through granite to install fiber.

We recommend notifying and working with interested providers to ensure the providers would use the conduit or cables.

Many providers will only use cables they installed. If the local government is not familiar with engineering standards, the local government could contract with a provider to install conduit that can be used by others. In addition to installation the local government will need to work out who is responsible for mapping the location of the conduit and maintenance. These issues can be worked out in a service level agreement (SLA) or service level management agreement (SMLA).

County or municipal policymakers could also require developers to include fiber optic cables as they install utility infrastructure in new residential or business construction. “Dig once” policies provide ready-made buried conduit, enabling future providers to more easily and cheaply install fiber by threading it through existing conduit.

FTTH COUNCIL DIG SMART: BEST PRACTICES FOR CITIES AND STATES ADOPTING DIG ONCE POLICIES

This paper focuses on the most impactful form of this policy: governments installing conduit whenever there is underground construction in the public right of way — whether that construction is for installing new utility equipment, repairs, or road work. To distinguish it from other types of “Dig Once” policies, we call this approach “Dig Smart.”This paper lays out the benefits of Dig Smart, how to implement Dig Smart, and the practical implications of Dig Smart.

NORTH CAROLINA ‘DIG ONCE’ PROPOSAL

This resource is a memo submitted by the Broadband Infrastructure Office proposing a ‘Dig Once’ policy to increase broadband infrastructure access for residents and businesses by lowering capital costs incurred by internet service providers (ISP) by aligning NCDOT road projects with broadband deployment projects..

CALIFORNIA ‘DIG ONCE’ WHITE PAPER

This report analyzes city and state implementation of Dig Once policies and practices, as well as, provides information from the Federal Highway Association’s (FHWA) research on best practices and other policies accompanying Dig Once.  This report aims to inform where and how dig once policies are implemented and how they are successful.

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