California Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced 18 new broadband projects the state will undertake in an effort to close the digital divide.
Gov. Newsom’s office said the 18 projects in tribal communities, counties, and cities across the state “mark the first step in creating open-access middle-mile network to provide missing broadband infrastructure.” The projects are part of the state’s $6 billion investment to expand broadband infrastructure and enhance internet access for unserved and underserved communities
“California is committed to taking on the challenges laid bare by the pandemic, including the digital divide holding back too many communities across the state,” said Gov. Newsom. “These projects are the first step to delivering on our historic investment that will ensure all Californians have access to high-quality broadband internet, while also creating new jobs to support our nation-leading economic recovery.”
Before selecting the 18 project areas, the state weighed public comments, prioritization of unserved or underserved areas of the state, and inclusion of tribal communities, cities, and counties. Projects are being initiated in 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.
“A reliable broadband connection makes the difference between having access to full-service health care, education and employment or sometimes going without,” said State Chief Information Officer Amy Tong. “Through a historic partnership between our Governor, the Legislature, state agencies and a third-party administrator, we are taking immediate action to improve connectivity for Californians in the northern, central and southern parts of the state.”
In a press release, Gov. Newsom’s office said state partners implementing the middle-mile initiative include the California Department of Technology, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and Caltrans. GoldenStateNet was selected as the Third-Party Administrator (TPA) to manage the development, acquisition, construction, maintenance, and operation of the statewide open-access middle-mile broadband network. As the TPA, GoldenStateNet will partner with key stakeholder groups across the state to investigate the best technical, financial, and operational models to meet the needs of the project sites.
“Each entity brings a unique perspective and set of skills to the initiative, and we are beginning these initial projects within only three months of the first Middle Mile Advisory Committee Meeting. This is an extraordinary commitment to deliver service throughout the state,” said Gayle Miller, Chief Deputy Director of the Department of Finance and member of the Middle-Mile Advisory Committee.