In a continued effort to accelerate Arizona’s economic recovery and growth, Senate Bill (SB) 1402, known as the Arizona Digital Highways bill, was signed into law by Governor Janice K. Brewer.
The Arizona Digital Highways bill establishes a sustainable broadband deployment program that will better enable economic growth, education, public safety, healthcare, and business across Arizona. Private sector providers will now be able to more economically extend broadband services to poorly served rural Arizonians by expanding the use of existing state roadway rights-of-way (ROW). This will be possible without drawing on existing highway or state general funds under the guidance of the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) in partnership with the Arizona Strategic Enterprise Technology (ASET) office in the Department of Administration.
Specifically, the bill expands existing rules governing ADOT’s management of state ROW to include transportation-of–information as well as vehicles. When funding is provided to ADOT, from a fund to be managed by ASET’s Digital Arizona Project, ADOT will be requested to bury multiple empty fiber-optic conduits along specified state highways-using existing ROW wherever possible. These multiple separate conduits will be leased to broadband providers by the Project on a cost recovery basis. Providers will have pre-agreed to install fiber before conduits are constructed. The outcome of the Project will be streamlined access to the ROW at significantly lower costs to providers for constructing long distance digital capacity to reach rural communities. These lowered costs are expected to encourage new investments by provider’s thereby accelerating and improving availability of high-capacity digital services in poorly served areas of Arizona. It is expected to take a number of years to fully implement this program throughout the rural areas of the state.
As the demand for digital Internet speed increases exponentially, many of Arizona’s rural residents and businesses find they either do not have high capacity digital services available at all, or the available services do not provide sufficient capacity to support new video intensive Internet services such as eLearning, Tele-Health, Telework and IPTV, etc. These shortcomings have been limiting factors in the availability of jobs, educational opportunities, public safety and healthcare services in such areas. The passing of SB1402 will allow for the spread, over time, of significantly higher-speed broadband access to citizens statewide, accelerating economic growth, education, public safety, healthcare, and digital government in Arizona.
The Arizona Digital Highway bill was spearheaded by the Digital Arizona Project team which is a federally funded grant program located in the Arizona Strategic Enterprise Technology (ASET) office of the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA). Critical and extensive support for the bill was provided by the non-profit Arizona Technology & Information Council (ATIC) who served as the prime private sector sponsor of the bill.
The successful passage of SB1402 could not have happened without the following supporters as well as many others not listed:
- Arizona Technology and Information Council (ATIC)
- Senator Adam Driggs
- Representative Vic Williams
- Representative David Stevens
- Former Senator Robert Burns
- Superintendent Huppenthal—Arizona Dept. of Education (AZED)
- Director Halikowski—Arizona Dept. of Transportation (ADOT)
- AZTech Council
- County Supervisors Association
- League of Cities and Towns
- The Navajo Nation
- The Hopi Nation
- Century Link
- City of Tempe
- Arizona Corporation Commission
- Cable One
- Arizona-New Mexico Cable Association
- Cox Cable
- Strategic Technology Communication