Sacramento, CA–California received nearly $9 million in federal grants to advance Broadband for All in every corner of the state.
Funding originated from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed by President Biden, to plan for the deployment and adoption of affordable, equitable, and reliable high-speed Internet service throughout the state.
“California is committed to expanding access to high-speed broadband internet across the state so that all our communities can thrive in today’s digital world,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “California has made historic investments to tackle the digital divide and this commitment from the Biden-Harris Administration strengthens the work underway throughout the state to advance Broadband for All, with a focus on unserved and underserved communities. We’ll continue our progress with partners at every level to ensure that all Californians have the reliable broadband connection they need to succeed in school, at work, and beyond.”
This federal investment adds to California’s historic $6.5 billion budget to achieve Broadband for All and expand broadband access, affordability, adoption, and digital literacy and skills training throughout the state.
The California Public Utilities Commission will administer $4.9 million for its Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (BEAD). The BEAD Program provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed Internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment, and adoption programs.
The Commission plans to use the Initial Planning Funds to increase equitable access to broadband service for all Californians. These funds will help stand up the BEAD program and supplement planning activities already underway as part of the suite of programs the CPUC administers to fund broadband deployment, local government and tribal technical assistance, affordability, and digital equity in the state. The BEAD program will fund broadband infrastructure deployment in unserved and underserved areas of the state to bring reliable broadband to all Californians.
California will receive $4,996,502 to fund various activities including identifying unserved and underserved locations, planning and increasing the capacity of the state broadband programs, developing a sub-grantee program for last-mile broadband deployment, and supporting the development of a 5-year action plan.
“The grants announced today are a critical part of California’s commitment to Broadband for All,” said California Public Utilities Commission President Alice Reynolds. “This funding will allow California to build a foundation for sustainable networks that will offer future-proof, reliable, and affordable service to unserved and underserved regions of the state.”
“Closing the digital divide does not have a one-size-fits-all solution,” said Commissioner Darcie L. Houck. “Through the BEAD program, we will engage with the stakeholders who understand the communications needs of their communities and the specific barriers that prevent access to vital communications services. We are excited to further our partnerships with these entities in our efforts to connect all Californians.”
The California Department of Technology will administer a $4 million grant to develop the State Digital Equity Plan. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act requires that plans must clearly identify the digital equity barriers for underserved populations including low-income residents, aging individuals, incarcerated persons, veterans, members of racial or ethnic minority groups, and those in rural areas.
“California has already embarked on the planning process by developing a Broadband for All Portal and establishing a Statewide Planning Group,” said Scott Adams, Deputy Director of Broadband and Digital Literacy for the California Department of Technology. “We look forward to engaging with local and regional stakeholders to ensure a plan that will result in connectivity, capability, and affordability for every Californian.”
CDT is preparing a 52-week planning process bringing together subject matter experts and practitioners to develop strategies that align with other state priorities, including economic and workforce development, education, and health. Additionally, California will conduct a statewide survey across the state’s 58 counties focusing on input from Covered Populations. The goal is to reach more than 11,000 respondents, oversampling each Covered Population to understand barriers to digital equity (including broadband access and adoption, digital literacy, online privacy and cybersecurity, and access to digital opportunities) and preferred solutions. The survey will be offered through phone interviews, online forms, and in-person outreach.