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posted by on Monday March 27 2017, @06:47PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the dogs-and-cats-living-together,-mass-hysteria dept.

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

Years in the making, a proposal to mandate the installation of fiber conduits during federally funded highway projects might be gaining some new momentum.

If the US adopts a "dig once" policy, construction workers would install conduits just about any time they build new roads and sidewalks or upgrade existing ones. These conduits are plastic pipes that can house fiber cables. The conduits might be empty when installed, but their presence makes it a lot cheaper and easier to install fiber later, after the road construction is finished.

The idea is an old one. US Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) has been proposing dig once legislation since 2009, and it has widespread support from broadband-focused consumer advocacy groups. It has never made it all the way through Congress, but it has bipartisan backing from lawmakers who often disagree on the most controversial broadband policy questions, such as net neutrality and municipal broadband. It even got a boost from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who has frequently clashed with Democrats and consumer advocacy groups over broadband—her "Internet Freedom Act" would wipe out the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules, and she supports state laws that restrict growth of municipal broadband.

Blackburn, chair of the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, put Eshoo's dig once legislation on the agenda for a hearing she held yesterday on broadband deployment and infrastructure. Blackburn's opening statement said that dig once is among the policies she's considering to "facilitate the deployment of communications infrastructure." But her statement did not specifically endorse Eshoo's dig once proposal, which was presented only as a discussion draft with no vote scheduled. The subcommittee also considered a discussion draft that would "creat[e] an inventory of federal assets that can be used to attach or install broadband infrastructure."

Source: https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/03/nationwide-fiber-proposed-law-could-add-broadband-to-road-projects/


Original Submission

Related Stories

Politics: FCC Guards Eject Reporter 37 comments

John M. Donnelly, a senior writer at CQ Roll Call, said he was trying to talk with FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly one-on-one after a news conference when two plainclothes guards pinned him against a wall with the backs of their bodies.

Washington Post

“Not only did they get in between me and O’Rielly but they put their shoulders together and simultaneously backed me up into the wall and pinned me to the wall for about 10 seconds just as I started to say, “Commissioner O’Rielly, I have a question,” Donnelly said Friday.

Donnelly said he was stopped long enough to allow O’Rielly to walk away.

Los Angeles Times

Donnelly, who also happens to be chair of the National Press Club Press Freedom team, said he was then forced out of the building after being asked why he had not posed his question during the news conference.

O'Rielly apologized to Donnelly on Twitter, saying he didn't recognize Donnelly in the hallway. "I saw security put themselves between you, me and my staff. I didn't see anyone put a hand on you. I'm sorry this occurred."

Politico

According to the publication for which the reporter works (archived copy),

Senators, including Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, are warning the Federal Communications Commission about its treatment of reporters after a CQ Roll Call reporter was manhandled Thursday.

“The Federal Communications Commission needs to take a hard look at why this happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. As The Washington Post pointed out, it’s standard operating procedure for reporters to ask questions of public officials after meetings and news conferences,” the Iowa Republican said. “It happens all day, every day. There’s no good reason to put hands on a reporter who’s doing his or her job.”

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  • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27 2017, @07:04PM (27 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27 2017, @07:04PM (#484788)

    Only a government, which declares its income by decree, doesn't care that it squanders resources digging multiple times.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27 2017, @07:16PM (21 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27 2017, @07:16PM (#484801)

      Really? Most likely response to road boss telling CEO he wants to put in pipe while building the road.

      Private Road Company CEO: "You want to spend how much money putting EMPTY pipes in the road? Are you insane? The Board would fire me for wasting money that."

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27 2017, @07:29PM (6 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27 2017, @07:29PM (#484814)

        Disagree. The empty conduit will show up as an asset on the company's balance sheet, and it will not look like money was wasted. Only if the company has a cash-flow problem (like governments often do), will they choose the cheapest road-building option.

        • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Monday March 27 2017, @08:05PM (5 children)

          by bob_super (1357) on Monday March 27 2017, @08:05PM (#484841)

          An empty conduit is not an asset on a balance sheet.

          The potential for the empty conduit to start producing dollar signs, which is a function of conduit continuity and places served, is an intangible asset which a monetary value can be attached to, when discussing company value. An imminent use of the conduit can be advertised to stakeholders, provided proper disclaimers about contractual risks are included.

          • (Score: 4, Insightful) by goody on Monday March 27 2017, @08:38PM (2 children)

            by goody (2135) on Monday March 27 2017, @08:38PM (#484854)

            An empty conduit is not an asset on a balance sheet.

            I'm not an accountant, but I think you're mistaken on this. It is an asset, regardless if it's currently generating revenue. If you purchased a stack of servers, installed them in a datacenter, but didn't have any customers hosted on them, your accounting department would definitely consider that a fixed asset and would shriek if anyone attempted to classify it as an intangible asset, regardless if it's generating revenue or not. Empty conduit and often the labor to install it is capitalized and depreciated. Strategic placement of it and the revenue it could potentially generate can increase the valuation of a company, but the conduit itself is still an asset, regardless.

            • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bob_super on Monday March 27 2017, @10:55PM (1 child)

              by bob_super (1357) on Monday March 27 2017, @10:55PM (#484927)

              First, does the road belong to the company? Usually not, so not an asset.
              Second, if the conduit is a mandatory feature of the road, is the conduit considered a separate asset? I'll got for "unlikely"
              Third, can you even depreciate conduit? Your rack of servers (you're fired for having spent CapEx without customers, btw) is a depreciating asset, per accounting rules. But empty conduit may or may not be, depending on your business. If you build roads, and you haev to put conduit in the road, it's probably treated like the drainage or even the rebar. You don't get to depreciate materials.
              Fourth, your conduit has a negative intrinsic value. It doesn't generate cash by itself, and you need to spend more money (or get a partner) to get it started generating value. Until then, it's a liability, if it could make you fail the road's SLA (Big storm clogs a conduit after idiots removed a cap, you gotta clean it).

              Owning access to the conduit might indeed raise the perceived value of the company, but I'd like someone to show me where you'd put it on the books.

              • (Score: 2) by goody on Tuesday March 28 2017, @04:52PM

                by goody (2135) on Tuesday March 28 2017, @04:52PM (#485294)

                OK, maybe we're talking apples and oranges on some of this. In the case of a contractor installing conduit as part of the highway project, no, it's not their highway, it's not their conduit, so it's not their asset. But for a telecom company installing a conduit, it's their conduit and it's an asset.

                You can depreciate conduit, it would just have a very long depreciation period. A desktop computer might depreciate out three years where I could see fiber conduit going 20, 30, or 40 years. IRU fiber leases often go 15 or 20 years, so it's conceivable fiber conduit depreciation would go as long or more. It has a long useful life. While the duct itself may be treated as a consumable material and ordered and tracked as such while under construction, it's still part of the network and an asset once built. Whether an item generates revenue or not doesn't change whether it's an asset. (If it did, a company that loses money each year would never have any assets on their balance sheet, which is very unlikely.) I don't think one can use an analogy to tie fiber conduit to things like drainage or rebar, as highways are government owned. However, if you owned something like a building or a racetrack, you probably can capitalize things like drainage and rebar as it's improving or creating an asset. So considering something a material doesn't disqualify it from being or becoming part of an asset. One can also capitalize labor associated with installing the material and make it part of the asset. Operating costs are a different thing. If you had to pay an annual right-of-way fee or perform maintenance, those would be liabilities, separate from the asset on the books. If the operating costs or initial capex exceeds the revenue, that doesn't negate it being an asset.

                All that said, depending on your business, your mileage may vary :-D

          • (Score: 2) by Justin Case on Tuesday March 28 2017, @12:20AM (1 child)

            by Justin Case (4239) on Tuesday March 28 2017, @12:20AM (#484946) Journal

            Yeah I'm thinking you haven't run a company.

            If you spend money and have nothing to show for it (salary, building rent, heating bill) that's an expense. If you purchase a tangible item (pipe, delivery truck, printer) that's an asset.

            So accountants play all sorts of games trying to get expenses reclassified as assets, because assets add up on the balance sheet and make stockholders happy, while expenses are perceived as money gone and make stockholders unhappy. For example, you pay the developers salary to build that new website and then try to claim the website as an asset of some dollar value, thereby reclassifying the salary expense. This is easier if you can outsource the work: look, we bought these pipes-in-the-ground for $X million, already installed. Not only is it an asset we can hold or sell to someone else later (it will be worth $X+Y million next year), it has the potential of generating future revenue and that makes stockholders happy too.

            • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Tuesday March 28 2017, @12:30AM

              by bob_super (1357) on Tuesday March 28 2017, @12:30AM (#484954)

              And I'm thinking you don't know how building a road, following a requirement list, works...
              The gravel, rebar and concrete are not assets, nor are the drainage pipes.

              A right-of-way (your conduit) is an asset, but the value is pretty dang hard to write down in a balance sheet, because its access depends on what's in the contract for building the road, and its value is highly volatile (demand) and depends on someone else having a similar right-of-way nearby (like the train tracks or the utility poles).

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday March 27 2017, @08:09PM (13 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 27 2017, @08:09PM (#484847) Journal

        Really? Most likely response to road boss telling CEO he wants to put in pipe while building the road.

        Private Road Company CEO: "You want to spend how much money putting EMPTY pipes in the road? Are you insane? The Board would fire me for wasting money that."

        That proof by straw man fairy tale is really convincing. The obvious rebuttal is why would Mr. CEO approve building an empty road in the first place?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27 2017, @09:20PM (5 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27 2017, @09:20PM (#484887)

          So YOU'RE the AC who's all about violently imposed monopolies! I am so very not surprised.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday March 27 2017, @10:23PM (4 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 27 2017, @10:23PM (#484915) Journal

            So YOU'RE the AC who's all about violently imposed monopolies! I am so very not surprised.

            If you assert it without even the slightest justification, it must be true.

            • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Tuesday March 28 2017, @01:45AM (3 children)

              by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 28 2017, @01:45AM (#484993) Journal

              The site admins could clear it up by comparing IP addresses :) Personally I *don't* think you're that idiot AC.

              --
              I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 28 2017, @04:28AM (2 children)

                by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 28 2017, @04:28AM (#485037)

                It's as insightful as always.

                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 28 2017, @11:02AM (1 child)

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 28 2017, @11:02AM (#485085) Journal

                  It's as insightful as always.

                  I never have any trouble maxing out my "karma" score. And a fair number of those mods are "insightful". So someone occasionally finds my writing such even if you never do.

                  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 28 2017, @01:52PM

                    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 28 2017, @01:52PM (#485142)

                    Azuma Hazuki

        • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Monday March 27 2017, @10:41PM

          by bob_super (1357) on Monday March 27 2017, @10:41PM (#484919)

          > The obvious rebuttal

          *Drinks*
          Hey, the road is empty, I won't hurt anyone.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 28 2017, @12:10PM (5 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 28 2017, @12:10PM (#485093)

          I don't think you understand the meaning of straw man argument.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 28 2017, @01:06PM (4 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 28 2017, @01:06PM (#485115) Journal

            I don't think you understand the meaning of straw man argument.

            Fortunately, we have Wikipedia to educate us on the issue.

            A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent's argument, while refuting an argument that was not advanced by that opponent.[1] One who engages in this fallacy is said to be "attacking a straw man".

            The typical straw man argument creates the illusion of having completely refuted or defeated an opponent's proposition through the covert replacement of it with a different proposition (i.e., "stand up a straw man") and the subsequent refutation of that false argument ("knock down a straw man") instead of the opponent's proposition.

            So let's see if the original argument really did fit that profile or not.

            Really? Most likely response to road boss telling CEO he wants to put in pipe while building the road.

            Private Road Company CEO: "You want to spend how much money putting EMPTY pipes in the road? Are you insane? The Board would fire me for wasting money that."

            It's a cool story, bro, and it certainly does give the impression of refuting the argument that "government, which declares its income by decree, doesn't care that it squanders resources digging multiple times". But the little problem is that "Private Road Company CEO" is purely imaginary in a purely imaginary situation with no basis in fact, a traditional straw man approach. So we're supposed to find the original argument refuted because the replier, instead of presenting a serious argument, presented a figment of their imagination?

            Needless to say, it checks off the straw man boxes and thus is a straw man argument. Hopefully, you are better aware now of what a straw man argument is.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 28 2017, @01:40PM (3 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 28 2017, @01:40PM (#485135)

              As I thought, you don't understand. Let's try a different approach.

              The response wasn't to "Governemt ... ". That is pure flame bait and not worth a response. I responded to your assertion in the subject that a private company would spend money on something completely unrelated to its primary task of building a road. The empty pipe is an added expense that does not contribute to the road in any way.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 28 2017, @02:01PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 28 2017, @02:01PM (#485148)
                • As buried infrastructure runs along the roads, and must be dug up multiple times, clearly installing a conduit does relate to the task of building a road.
                • Moreover, the assertion is that there is a private road industry, so maybe you misunderstand: The scenario involves not just private companies building roads, but also managing them thereafter; clearly, that conduit is an asset to this business.
              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 28 2017, @05:27PM

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 28 2017, @05:27PM (#485318) Journal

                I responded to your assertion in the subject that a private company would spend money on something completely unrelated to its primary task of building a road.

                It's not completely unrelated to its primary task. This activity can add value to the road. And their primary task is not to build a road, but the revenue that they can earn from selling the road or collecting toll on that road.

              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday March 28 2017, @05:51PM

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 28 2017, @05:51PM (#485341) Journal
                I didn't write the original post that kicked off this flamefest. I even posted my own rebuttal [soylentnews.org] to that.

                A private business might care more, but that doesn't mean they won't do multiple diggings. The real problem with this scheme is that it's top down. Someone decides that adding conduit to every road is valuable and they just do it without any consideration for whether it adds value in the situation or not.

    • (Score: 2) by sjames on Monday March 27 2017, @09:09PM (2 children)

      by sjames (2882) on Monday March 27 2017, @09:09PM (#484877) Journal

      Except that it isn't. Bell dug up my entire neighborhood in the '90s to replace the cable they laid in the '70s. They did not use conduit either time. Even though switching from copper to fiber was all over the tech news at the time, they just ripped out the old copper and buried new copper.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27 2017, @10:49PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27 2017, @10:49PM (#484924)

        The telecom industry was built on government-granted monopolies, including essentially guaranteed income. So, that's not really a good example.

        • (Score: 2) by sjames on Tuesday March 28 2017, @01:16AM

          by sjames (2882) on Tuesday March 28 2017, @01:16AM (#484982) Journal

          It's not a bad example since they have to spend their own money and they get to make a profit.

          But if you're interested in a much closer example, how many turnpikes have empty conduit under them?

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday March 27 2017, @11:07PM (1 child)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 27 2017, @11:07PM (#484933) Journal

      Only a government, which declares its income by decree, doesn't care that it squanders resources digging multiple times.

      A private business might care more, but that doesn't mean they won't do multiple diggings. The real problem with this scheme is that it's top down. Someone decides that adding conduit to every road is valuable and they just do it without any consideration for whether it adds value in the situation or not.

      I think the ideal situation here would be leasing or auctioning the right of way. If someone who then wins that right of way wants to then put conduit in, then more power to them.

  • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27 2017, @07:27PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27 2017, @07:27PM (#484811)

    The original comment was modded "Redundant", so I've posted this second comment to make that moderation truthful.

    ------------

    Only a government, which declares its income by decree, doesn't care that it squanders resources digging multiple times.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27 2017, @09:25PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27 2017, @09:25PM (#484891)

      Pretty sure it was marked redundant because it is an obviously dumb point to make. Also, it is only a slight variation from your "violently imposed monopoly" which so many people are tired of hearing that in any given thread you can expect downmodding when using such phrasing. Perhaps it won't get downmodded if the phrase actually fits the story / rest of your comment.

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by cmdrklarg on Monday March 27 2017, @07:51PM

    by cmdrklarg (5048) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 27 2017, @07:51PM (#484825)

    Gesundheit!

    (sorry couldn't resist)

    --
    Answer now is don't give in; aim for a new tomorrow.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by snufu on Monday March 27 2017, @08:53PM (2 children)

    by snufu (5855) on Monday March 27 2017, @08:53PM (#484866)

    from Comcast.

    • (Score: 2) by Scruffy Beard 2 on Monday March 27 2017, @09:08PM (1 child)

      by Scruffy Beard 2 (6030) on Monday March 27 2017, @09:08PM (#484873)

      Don't see why they would complain. It is the "last mile" that is the problem (and that municipalities get sued for solving).

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27 2017, @09:23PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27 2017, @09:23PM (#484890)

        It provides access for competitors, they wouldn't like that one bit. If all someone needs to do is come up with the cost of the fiber plus some equipment closets and NOT jump through various regulations just to get their cables in the ground, then you will see competition. Telecoms love their monopolies, they run pretty much the most profitable businesses around!

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