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Regional Broadband Consortia Powers up for Three More Years

By Yzabelle Dela Cruz

In November 2019, Valley Vision was awarded funding to manage the Connected Capital Area Broadband Consortia (CCABC) for the next three years, working alongside other regional consortia to achieve 98% broadband access within each region – its third grant from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) since 2012.

The CCABC is tasked to facilitate the deployment of broadband infrastructure throughout the four-county CCABC region (Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba counties), working with local municipalities, Internet service providers (ISPs), anchor institutions, community partners, and the State, among others to close the Digital Divide and improve access for the next three years. In this new phase of funding, the CCABC plans to use a reverse RFP approach, which will place a thorough case for investment in the hands of providers. The intent is to generate a more active response from providers by fulfilling as much of the planning work as possible and promoting competition.

Although there was a hiatus in CPUC funding in 2019 for most regional consortia, the CCABC was able to engage multiple stakeholders through several initiatives to improve broadband access, adoption and deployment. In February 2019, Valley Vision helped host a Digital Inclusion Summit, alongside the Sacramento Public Library and the City of Sacramento’s Office of Innovation and Economic Development, bringing together more than 100 participants, to facilitate collaboration among organizations and initiatives working to bridge the digital divide. This summit led to the development of the Sacramento Coalition for Digital Inclusion and the Digital Inclusion Week resolution passed in the City of Sacramento. In March 2019, Valley Vision hosted FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, to discuss rural broadband infrastructure and connectivity issues related to lack of eligibility for federal funding due to rural definitions, among other challenges. Chairman Pai visited two farms which are piloting ag technologies and the AgStart incubator in Woodland, and met with local and state policy leaders. The CCABC continues to work with the Chairman’s office and other Commissioners to address funding, mapping and other infrastructure challenges, along with federal agencies including NTIAEDA and USDA and congressional representatives to advance regional broadband priorities. This work will continue as part of the 2020 Cap-to-Cap trip in April.

Through funding from the Delta Protection Commission, Valley Vision developed a broadband action plan for five legacy communities along the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, all facing rural broadband infrastructure and funding challenges. As a lead partner in developing the Capital Region Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), with support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, Valley Vision incorporated broadband infrastructure and access priorities into both the infrastructure and workforce/digital skills strategies. Additionally, with support from the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), Valley Vision manages the Strategic Broadband Corridors Project, a statewide effort to coordinate the network of broadband consortia with CalTrans to conduct joint use/dig once projects along priority corridors/highways.

Glenda Humiston (VP of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources), Trish Kelly (Managing Director of Valley Vision), and Sunne McPeak (President & CEO of CA Emerging Technology Fund) at the Broadband Policy Forum.

To get updates on the Connected Capital Area Broadband Consortium and the Sacramento Coalition for Digital Inclusion, subscribe to our broadband newsletter today!

Yzabelle Dela Cruz is a Valley Vision Project Associate contributing to the Innovation & Infrastructure and 21st Century Workforce impact areas.

Valley Vision’s Trish Kelly also contributed to the writing of this blog.