New Broadband Legislation: Affordability, Equity, and Mapping
Building on last year’s historic $6 billion investment in broadband infrastructure, CSAC is currently evaluating a package of bills that seek to increase data collection, expand connectivity, and increase affordable broadband options for Californians. The bills below are generally in line with the broadband portion of CSAC’s 2022 Policy Priorities, as approved by the Board of Directors in December.
AB 2748 (Holden): This bill would significantly strengthen DIVCA, the state law that implemented a state franchise system for digital video services that in many ways loosed regulations on the industry. The companies that provide digital video services also provide broadband in those same service areas. Previously, counties and cities could negotiate franchises locally with cable and telecom companies to ensure they could not cherry-pick which neighborhoods they wanted to serve. CSAC is still evaluating AB 2748, but strongly supported last year’s early version of SB 28 early version, which also addressed weaknesses in DIVCA regulations.
AB 2749 (Quirk-Silva): This bill would expand eligibility under the Broadband Infrastructure Grant Account from projects that provide last-mile broadband access to households that are unserved by a broadband provider to “areas that include” households that are unserved by a broadband provider. Additionally, this bill would establish new application review requirements for the CPUC and allow implementation of a streamlined, ministerial process for approving CSAF applications.
AB 2750 (Bonta): This bill would require the Department of Technology to develop, in collaboration with stakeholders, a state digital equity plan that identifies barriers to digital equity for vulnerable or marginalized communities in the state. The measure also directs the Department of Technology to seek available federal funding to develop and implement the new plan.
AB 2751 (E. Garcia): This measure would prohibit the state from doing business with an internet service provider (ISP) unless the provider offers affordable home internet services to households participating in public assistance programs, such as CalFresh, Medi-Cal, and Supplemental Security Income. While many providers currently offer an affordable service option, providing these services are optional for the ISPs. By limiting state contracts to ISPs that offer affordable programs, the state can compel ISPs to do their part in ensuring affordable connectivity is an option for all.
AB 2752 (Wood): This bill would require the CPUC to include developed last-mile broadband service connections that link to the statewide middle-mile broadband network currently being developed on their interactive broadband service maps. CSAC is still evaluating this bill but recognizes the vital role accurate broadband mapping plays in closing the digital divide.
In addition to these five bills, there are several “spot” bills related to broadband. These bills, which are typically nonsubstantive amendments to current law, serve as placeholders for members while they fine-tune their proposals. CSAC will continue to monitor these bills, which will be amended in the coming weeks.