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Don Davis, Published June 15 2009

Klobuchar bill aimed at saving broadband money

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. – Minnesotans get frustrated enough with road construction and paying taxes that they should not have to put up with both when they don't need to, Sen. Amy Klobuchar says.

The Minnesota Democrat and other U.S. senators are pushing a bill to require that when any government builds or rebuilds a road with federal money that broadband conduit be installed at the same time. Otherwise, Klobuchar said, the new road may need to be torn up again soon to install broadband, cabling that carries Internet and other signals across the state.

"We can save 70 percent of the cost," she said of the requirement.

Most expense of connecting communities with broadband comes from tearing up roads where the cabling is installed, she said.

Klobuchar said she "feel good" that the bill will pass, either as part of an overall transportation bill or as a stand-alone measure.

She had no immediate estimate about how much her bill may save governments or broadband providers.

"Broadband is becoming an increasingly important part of the economy," she said.

The bill is aimed at helping rural and suburban areas where the cost of connecting to high-speed Internet and other broadband services has been high.

Klobuchar called the bill "big once" because it would eliminate the tearing up of many roads to install broadband.