Reps. Eshoo, McKinley, Delgado Announce Legislation to Expand Internet Services to Rural and Underserved Communities

June 3, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), David B. McKinley (R-WV) and Antonio Delgado (D-NY) announced the reintroduction of the Nationwide Dig Once Act, legislation to expand the deployment of broadband internet service to rural and unserved communities across the U.S.

The Nationwide Dig Once Act mandates the inclusion of broadband conduit – plastic pipes which house fiber-optic communications cables – during the construction of any road receiving federal funding in areas that lack broadband . Eshoo first introduced Dig Once legislation in 2009.

“Covid-19 has shifted people’s entire lives online, making many jobs, classrooms, and social lives completely virtual. Yet, tens of millions of Americans have been unable to make that essential shift because they lack basic access to high-quality broadband internet service,” said Rep. Eshoo. “Our bill would put in place crucial infrastructure needed to bring internet service to the most underserved communities. At a time when internet is central to our day-to-day lives, I’m proud to work with my colleagues to move this legislation forward and modernize our broadband systems.”

“The COVID19 pandemic showed the importance of having reliable internet service, from connecting to family members to accessing health care. Across West Virginia and in too many parts of the country access to good high speed internet is spotty. Our bipartisan legislation will ensure deployment of high-speed internet quicker and more efficiently by ensuring federal infrastructure projects include conduit to lay fiber. As we work to close the digital divide in West Virginia and across the country, this is a positive step in the right direction,” said Rep. McKinley.

"COVID-19 has made clear that our upstate families, farmers, small businesses, and veterans need a reliable and affordable internet connection," said Rep. Delgado. "The Nationwide Dig Once Act will help transform our rural communities and make broadband for all a reality. Congress must act now to advance this cost-effective and common-sense legislation."

The Nationwide Dig Once Act requires the following:

  • Establishes a process for states to notify broadband providers of federally-funded highway construction that may present opportunities for coordinating installation of broadband infrastructure;
  • Requires the installation of broadband conduit if a provider has not committed to deploy conduit as part of a federally-funded construction project; and
  • Establishes a task force co-chaired by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and the National Telecommunications and Information Administrator to consider and propose methods to fund the nationwide dig once policy.