CSAC Bulletin Article

California Adopts Broadband for All Action Plan

January 7, 2021

The California Broadband Council adopted a final Broadband Action Plan for the state. The Action Plan, which was required by Executive Order N-73-20, was crafted with collaboration from a number of stakeholders and state agencies as a “roadmap to accelerate the deployment and adoption.” The Executive Order also requires the Broadband Council to review the plan annually.

The final plan centers on three long-term goals to ensure that all Californians: have high-performance broadband available at home, schools, libraries, and businesses; have access to affordable broadband and the devices necessary to access the internet; and can access training and support to enable digital inclusion. Per the Executive Order’s requirements, the plan updates the state broadband definition to meet to the federal standard of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload, with a goal of 100/20 Mbps. CSAC participated in multiple stakeholder sessions during the development of the plan, and will remain engaged with the Council going forward.

The Legislature is shaping up to take action on Broadband as well, with a number of bills on the topic already introduced. CSAC is supporting AB 14, by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, and SB 4, by Senator Lena Gonzalez. Between them, these bills would authorize implement needed reforms and additional funding, including the authority to issue a revenue bond of up to $1 billion. These reforms and new funding authorization are critically important to bringing broadband infrastructure in to the 21st Century. The bill would also give explicit authority for Boards of Supervisors to approve the construction and operation of broadband infrastructure and services.

CSAC is also supporting AB 34, by Assembly Members Al Muratsuchi, Eduardo Garcia, and Miguel Santiago, which would put a state general obligation bond on the November 2022 ballot. The bill does not yet include specifics about the size of the proposed bond or its uses, but the intent is to fund increased access to broadband services to rural, urban, suburban, and tribal unserved and underserved communities. The press release announcing the bill envisions a bond of up to $10 billion.

Those bills deal with exactly the issues that CSAC’s board of directors has made a priority for the association this year: significant funding for infrastructure in the form of a bond and reforms to the programs that subsidize infrastructure. Since a general obligation bond would not provide funding until 2023 at the earliest, it is critical for the state and federal governments to increase resources available for building to unserved and underserved communities.

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