State unveils initial broadband projects to help bridge digital divide
The California Department of Technology announced the location of 18 sites for the initial construction and deployment of a statewide open-access middle mile network just before Thanksgiving. The network is the final leg needed to provide internet service to a customer and is an important step in creating more equitable internet access.
Projects are being initiated in the following tribal communities, counties, and cities: Alpine County; Amador County; Calaveras County; Central Coast; Coachella Valley; Colusa Area; Inyo County; Kern County; Kern/San Luis Obispo Area; Lake County Area; Los Angeles and South Los Angeles; Oakland; Orange County; Plumas Area; Riverside/San Diego Area; San Bernardino County; Siskiyou Area; and West Fresno.
These locations were strategically chosen to help provide broadband access to unserved and underserved communities and can serve as a test case for larger broadband deployment. The state defines an unserved or underserved region as an area with households that do not reliably have download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps.
The announcement is a part of the state's historic, $6 billion broadband investment and addresses one of the League of California Cities' top 2021 legislative priorities. The measure included $2 billion for last-mile broadband infrastructure, which will increase connectivity and affordability for underserved and unserved rural and urban communities; $3.25 billion for a statewide, open-access, middle-mile network; and $750 million to establish a new loan loss reserve account to provide collateral (and better borrowing terms) to local governments issuing bonds for municipal broadband deployment.
The lack of available middle-mile broadband infrastructure is a major issue in connecting California’s unserved and underserved communities. This first round of projects represents an essential first step towards connectivity and affordability for all by making it easier for internet providers to provide faster and cheaper service throughout the state. These projects will create opportunities for more entities to build last-mile infrastructure in more places and improve service, speeds, and network resilience.A map and additional information can be found on the California Department of Technology’s website.