By: Emily Andrews
SACRAMENTO, CA––The California Department of Technology has begun readying 3,000 miles of network infrastructure in order to implement the Broadband Infrastructure Package approved in 2021.
In August 2020, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-73-20 to improve digital connectivity throughout California. The Broadband Council, established in 2010 and run by 12 members of the California Department of Technology, was directed by the order to develop a statewide Broadband Action Plan.
In July 2021, Governor Newsom signed a historic broadband legislation, SB 156, that aimed to provide reliable, equitable internet access for all Californians across the state. 6 billion dollars were allocated in total.
Of the 6 billion dollars, 3.25 billion was planned for an open-access, statewide broadband middle-mile network, 2 billion was for broadband last-mile infrastructure projects, 750 million was for a loan loss reserve in order to support local government broadband infrastructure development, and 50 million was for local agency technical assistance grants.
The open-access middle-mile network is a physical midsection of broadband infrastructure that will consist of high-capacity fiber lines, and will be overseen by the California Department of Technology. The middle-mile network will allow internet service providers and other entities to connect and deliver service through it.
The last-mile network will provide many Californians with access to high-speed broadband services.
On May 20th 2022, Governor Newsom confirmed that new contracts were awarded that would supply necessary materials in order to build the 3,000 miles of broadband infrastructure. 225 million dollars were awarded to two vendors through the California Department of Technology that would allow the state to purchase the optical fiber and materials needed for the project.
According to the Office of the California Governor, there are 675,000 underserved Californians who do not have ready access to internet. Especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues its ebb and flow in cases throughout California, reliable access to internet is a way for more isolated communities to still stay connected to the world.
Governor Newsom explained, “Access to high speed internet can mean the difference between launching a successful career and being without work. Once constructed, this network will be the largest in the world – and our action today will make the promise of broadband for all a reality.”
Broadband connections will be improved and implemented in order to support access to education, health services, and employment opportunities on an equal level to all, regardless of geography.
Construction of the physical middle-mile network is expected to be completed by December 2026.
Preparation and regulations to ensure these efforts can be completed have been in progress for years. The state’s Invitation for Bid (IFB) ensured supplies for the broadband network will be available at a pre-negotiated price when needed. Thus, the state has had the ability to add an indefinite amount of materials to complete construction over the next four years.
The long-term goals of the Broadband Council include high performance broadband available at home, schools, libraries, and businesses. The project also hopes to provide access to affordable broadband, as well as training and support to enable digital inclusion.