broadband (alphaspirit/Shutterstock.com)

California funds broadband infrastructure expansion

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation to that aims to ensure more state residents can access affordable high-speed internet.

A $6 billion multi-year investment will fund construction of a state-owned, open-access middle-mile fiber network and last-mile projects that connect unserved households and businesses with local networks.

The funding breaks down into three basic categories:

  • $3.25 billion for a third-party to build, operate and maintain state-owned high-capacity fiber lines. This middle-mile infrastructure would carry more data at higher speeds over longer distances to last-mile providers, anchor institutions and tribal entities that would to connect with other networks to facilitate high-speed broadband service. 
  • $2 billion for internet service providers to set up last-mile broadband connections between local networks and unserved homes and businesses, with $1 billion going to rural communities and $1 billion to urban communities.
  • $750 million for a loan-loss reserve fund that will allow local governments to secure financing for broadband infrastructure.

The legislation also creates a broadband czar position at the California Department of Technology and a broadband advisory committee and provides more accountability and legislative oversight, officials said.

Last year the state called on philanthropists and business leaders to help facilitate distance learning through public-private partnerships. With donated mobile hotspots, laptops, Chromebooks, tablets and other devices, students lacking high-speed internet or an appropriate device could connect to their schools’ network.

This new legislation brings the state closer to achieving affordable, high-speed broadband internet service by taking a long view toward tackling the broadband infrastructure deficiencies in rural and low-income communities.

“As we work to build California back stronger than before, the state is committed to addressing the challenges laid bare by the pandemic, including the digital divide holding back too many communities in a state renowned for its pioneering technology and innovation economy,” Newsom said. “This $6 billion investment will make broadband more accessible than ever before, expanding opportunity across the spectrum for students, families and businesses -- from enhanced educational supports to job opportunities to health care and other essential services.”

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at [email protected] or @sjaymiller.

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