Accelerating Our Move Toward Universal Broadband Access
On April 23, Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves and staff from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) held a public workshop to review California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) initiatives and resources, and facilitate collaboration among regional consortia, stakeholders, local governments, and broadband providers.
Commissioner Guzman Aceves began the virtual workshop with CPUC updates on COVID-19 response actions such as enforcing new Utility Consumer Protections and updating the California Teleconnect Fund to enable distance learning for rural school districts. As COVID-19 continues to amplify and exacerbate the disparities of the Digital Divide, the CPUC and other state entities are mobilizing to ensure all Californians have access to reliable and affordable Internet access and equipment.
The pandemic also highlighted the importance of broadband deployment efforts such as the CASF Infrastructure Grant Aaccount which focuses on providing broadband access to 98% of households in each consortia region, through infrastructure projects. To be eligible, projects must provide broadband service at or above 10 Mbps download / 1 Mbps upload speeds to households identified as unserved. CPUC staff highlighted high density unserved areas in each consortia region that are eligible for funding, utilizing the California Interactive Broadband Map – a tool that provides transparent information on broadband adoption, deployment, and access data. The workshop provided timely information and opportunities for the May 4th CASF infrastructure grant application deadline.
Additionally, the workshop provided opportunities for each consortium to give updates on the varying broadband projects and initiates throughout several regions of the state. Valley Vision Managing Director, Trish Kelly, facilitated this discussion. CPUC staff also provided updates on efforts to ensure that California is able to receive new federal funding programs for broadband to address critical rural connectivity gaps. This is a high priority for the Capital Region which has been locked out of federal broadband funding investments. You can access the regional consortia update PowerPoints and all of the workshop materials here.
Yzabelle Dela Cruz is a Valley Vision Project Associate contributing to the Innovation & Infrastructure and 21st Century Workforce impact areas.