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California

Gov. Newsom signs bill committing $6 billion expand internet access in underserved communities

@GavinNewsom

Governor Gavin Newsom signed new legislation to commit $6 billion to increase access to high speed internet across the California.

The newly signed SB 156 includes:

  • $3.25 billion to build, operate and maintain an open access, state-owned middle mile network – high-capacity fiber lines that carry large amounts of data at higher speeds over longer distances between local networks.
  • $2 billion to set up last-mile broadband connections that will connect homes and businesses with local networks. The legislation expedites project deployment and enables Tribes and local governments to access this funding. 
  • $750 million for a loan loss reserve fund to bolster the ability of local governments and nonprofits to secure financing for broadband infrastructure.
  • Creation of a broadband czar position at the California Department of Technology, and a broadband advisory committee with representatives from across state government and members appointed by the Legislature.

Newsom signed the bill Tuesday morning at a rural elementary school in Tulare County, which has had to distribute hotspot devices to students for internet access as students learned from home during the pandemic.

We've seen a similar situation here in the eastern part of the Coachella Valley, where students struggled with distance learning due in part to lack of internet access. Local school districts such as CVUSD distributed hotspots and would park buses with hotspots in communities, however, students still struggled with internet access.

Local Coverage on the Internet Access Issue:

The governor's office says that through this investment, more Californians will be able to access broadband coverage with the construction of a state-owned open access middle mile network and last mile projects that connect unserved households and businesses with local networks.

“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,” said Governor Newsom. “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. I thank the Legislature for its partnership on this critically important step to ensuring that California’s economic recovery will leave no part of our state behind.”

For the full text of the bill, visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

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Jesus Reyes

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