California is Creating a 10,000-Mile Broadband Network

$6.5 billion will be spent on the network.

Source : Unsplash

November 9, 2022

Author : Alex Bustillos

In 2022, the internet has become a necessity. Yet, according to a recent assessment by the Federal Communications Commission, 22.3 percent of Americans in rural areas and 27.7 percent of Americans in tribal lands lack stable internet service, compared to only 1.5 percent of Americans in metropolitan areas.

California is at the cutting edge of guaranteeing fast internet for all its residents. Recently construction began in rural San Diego County on the first part of the 10,000-mile broadband network designed to offer high-speed internet access to all Californians, so they can easily access emergency information, telemedicine services, education, and employment opportunities.

Construction began on State Route 67 near Poway, where state government officials watched 500 feet of fiber optic cable being blown through conduit as part of the "Middle Mile" broadband network.

The projected network, the largest in the nation, will span the whole state to provide reliable, high-speed internet access to the millions of Californians who currently lack it. Roughly one-fifth of Californians lack access to affordable and dependable high-speed internet. 

Once completed, financing for "last mile" activities would support internet connections from "middle mile" lines to homes and businesses, as well as efforts to guarantee that broadband service is affordable in areas where it already exists.

“California is one step closer to making the digital divide a thing of the past," stated Governor Newsom. “We're starting construction today to get affordable high-speed internet in every California home because livelihoods depend on equitable access to a reliable and fast internet connection. This is about ensuring that all Californians can be part of the Golden State’s thriving and diverse economy, no matter the zip code they call home.”

Last year, Governor Newsom signed the historic legislation, Senate Bill 156, sponsored by Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. This bill provided funding of $6.5 billion for attaining Broadband for All, including $3.25 billion for the middle-mile network. This year's budget allocated an extra $550 million as General Funds as construction continues forward.

The features of the legislation included:

  1. $3.25 billion for constructing, operating, and maintaining a state-owned, open-access middle-mile network
  2. Last-mile internet connections connecting households and businesses to municipal networks will cost $2 billion. The Act expedites project implementation and makes this financing accessible to Tribes and local governments.
  3. $750 million for a loan loss reserve fund to assist local governments and charities in obtaining financing for broadband projects
  4. The creation of a broadband czar position at the California Department of Technology and a broadband advisory council comprised of state government representatives and legislators

With the passage of the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) in 2021, federal funding for broadband access in California increased. These laws were enacted to aid the nation's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic with infrastructure investments, including affordable access to high-speed broadband for the public so that they may work, learn, and connect remotely.

The Middle Mile Advisory Committee (MMAC) oversees the design and building of the middle mile network, with assistance from GoldenStateNet, the state's consultant.

Californians interested in determining if they qualify for discounts on high-speed internet services that are currently available can find additional information at the Broadband for All website.

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