Editorial: Legislation Would Help Expand Broadband

When it comes to the Internet, digging a hole is probably the last image to come to mind.

But as West Virginia and its neighboring states work to expand broadband speed and capacity, there is a real "shovels and dirt" side to laying out the fiber-optic cable that makes it all happen. In fact, about 90 percent of the expense is digging up and replacing roads or roadsides, experts say.

So new bipartisan legislation, co-sponsored by West Virginia's U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, would be an important step in the right direction.

The Streamlining and Investing in Broadband Infrastructure Act would require states to install broadband conduits - sort of plastic tubing - as part of federal highway projects that involve new construction or additional lanes or shoulders. Those conduits would allow communication companies to later string cable at a much lower cost.

The "dig once" approach is particularly important in expanding broadband to rural areas, where the installation cost per mile has to be balanced with a smaller base of potential customers.

Let's hope lawmakers will move ahead with this program, and help West Virginia and other rural areas catch up on this crucial link to the modern economy.

Source: Huntington Herald-Dispatch