San Francisco, CA–The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), in ongoing efforts to help bridge the digital divide, adopted rules for a new $2 billion grant program focused on building broadband Internet infrastructure for communities without access to Internet service at sufficient and reliable speeds.
The rules adopted in Thursday’s decision apply to the Federal Funding Account (FFA), created by Governor Gavin Newsom and the State Legislature (Senate Bill 156) as part of the state’s historic broadband package, and funded through the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, in accordance with U.S. Treasury Department requirements.
The program will fund wireline networks that provide reliable service in communities that need it most. Networks must be built to provide modern speeds of 100 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload. The program encourages local and tribal government participation and reflects the State’s priority of bringing affordable service to all Californians.
“This broadband program is exciting, ambitious, and will enable us to make future-proof investments in communities across the state,” said CPUC President Alice Busching Reynolds. “The program is designed for all communities without high-quality, reliable connections. The funding will target networks that can meet the demands of tomorrow and provide service that is affordable.”
“The decision achieves a careful balance with a preference for local government, non-profit, and tribal projects, while also maintaining an opportunity for private providers,” said Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma.
The rules adopted include, among other items, project eligibility, application objections, allocating FFA funding between rural and urban counties, reimbursing grantees, a review process whereby CPUC staff may approve certain projects and minimum performance standards for grantees.