Dig-Once Policies

Top Takeaways

  • Dig-once policies provide ready-made, buried conduits, enabling future providers to more easily and cheaply install fiber by threading it through existing conduits.
  • 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 conduits – narrow pipes with no actual fiber optic cable housed within – during local construction projects. The county, city or town can install fiber optic conduits with minimal financial investment while upgrading or repairing water or sewer pipes or repairing or building roads and sidewalks.

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

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

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

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

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 conduits, 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 conduits 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 by lowering capital costs incurred by internet service providers by aligning N.C. Department of Transportation road projects with broadband deployment projects.