California Governor Gavin Newsom laid out his plans on what to do with the state’s surplus and federal stimulus funds, which include $ 7 billion over three years to build broadband infrastructure. If the state legislature approves May’s revised budget proposal, California will get to work on one of the largest public broadband fiber network projects in the United States.
“[Universal] High-speed internet access is essential to the economy, education, health and basic well-being of the state and will be a key component of the state’s long-term recovery ” , the budget reads. “The pandemic has underscored the importance of making broadband accessible and affordable for education, employment and health purposes.”
According to the budget, 83.4% of residents use broadband, but just over 52% can achieve speeds of 100 Mbps. It notes that 51.3 percent of rural households do not have access to 100 Mbps service and neither do 28.4 percent of households on tribal lands. The problem persists even in urban areas. About half of the households without access to 100 Mbps broadband are in these areas of the state.
The budget outlines a plan to build a “mid-mile” network, effectively broadband infrastructure for highway and main road. The providers said the cost of connecting parts of the state to broadband networks was prohibitive, especially in rural areas. As such, California plans to create a $ 500 million loan loss reserve account to help nonprofits, local governments, and tribes secure private funding for municipal fiber networks ( or the “local road” part of the infrastructure). Newsom also hopes to offer other incentives for providers to connect unserved or underserved households to the grid.
Along with expanding infrastructure, one of the main goals is to make broadband broadband access more affordable for Californians. Newsom wrote on Twitter that the state “will close the Numeric fraction. “
It will be several years before this network is fully operational (assuming it is approved). Those who have struggled with questionable relationships while working from home or remote school during the pandemic will not benefit from this plan immediately. Nonetheless, improving public broadband infrastructure will improve internet access. millions of Californians long term and, according to the proposal, it “will create tens of thousands of quality jobs to help the state’s economy recover from the pandemic.”
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