Cal Cities supports broadband measures that seek to close the digital divide

Jan 26, 2021
Cal Cities has taken support positions on both AB 14 (Aguiar-Curry) and SB 4 (Gonzalez). These efforts complement Cal Cities 2021 Strategic Priorities, which seek to increase state and federal funding for broadband deployment to enhance workforce and economic development and improve quality of life.  

The CASF is a critical state funding source for broadband infrastructure. The CASF is administered by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and helps fund projects that provide broadband services in unserved and underserved areas. Funding for the CASF stems from a surcharge on revenues collected by telecommunications companies.

AB 14 (Aguiar-Curry) and SB 4 (Gonzalez) would ensure the ongoing collection of the existing CASF surcharge beyond the original 2022 sunset date, and make it easier for local governments to access these infrastructure grants. Currently, local governments are only able to apply for CASF grants if no other entities apply. Both bills would also create Broadband Bond Financing and Securitization Accounts to fund broadband infrastructure deployment by local governments. These funding opportunities would allow local governments to continue to play a vital role in deploying broadband infrastructure in their communities.

In addition to these essential funding opportunities, these measures would expand the definition of "unserved." Expanding this definition increases eligibility for CASF grants, which are currently reserved for areas with internet at dial-up speeds or lower, leaving out many communities where Californians struggle to stay connected with slightly faster but still obsolete speeds.

Cal Cities strongly supports both AB 14 (Aguiar-Curry) and SB 4 (Gonzalez) and stands ready to work with the Legislature to further the state's broadband goals while implementing them in a way that will work for cities.