Rachel Rosenblum | June 5, 2017
The Assembly has passed a bill to help expand broadband internet infrastructure into rural communities in the North State.
Assembly Bill 1665, co-authored by local Assemblyman James Gallagher, will allocate $330 million and extend the California Advanced Services Fund for broadband deployment and adoption in rural and low-income urban areas that lack sufficient internet infrastructure, according to a press release from Gallagher’s office.
The bill, titled Internet for All Now Act of 2017, is headed to the Senate for further consideration.
“A lot of urban areas have been connected, but rural parts of California have been left behind,” Gallagher said in a phone interview Friday.
And the areas underserved or unserved reach expansively throughout his district, he said.
According to a map of Assembly District 3’s wireline service – provided by Gallagher’s office on behalf of the bill’s primary author, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella – most of Meridian is unserved; and areas of Colusa,
Yuba, Sutter, Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties are underserved or unserved.
“The digital divide is just not acceptable in the 21st century. Rural Californians deserve the same access and opportunity as those in urban areas,” Gallagher said in the press release. “AB 1665 will help improve public safety, economic competition, and educational opportunities in the North State and beyond.”
Cesar Zaldivar-Motts | May 21, 2017
Estos no son días bipartidistas. Nunca antes los demócratas y los republicanos habían estado tan en desacuerdo, tan en conflicto.
Pero California está viendo una excepción. El proyecto de ley de Internet para Todos Ahora, un proyecto bipartidista que cerrará la brecha digital en California, está abriéndose paso a través de la legislatura, gracias en gran parte a los funcionarios electos latinos, específicamente a los miembros de la Asamblea Miguel Santiago, Eduardo Gonzales, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Eloise Gómez Reyes y Blanca Rubio.
La razón por la que el proyecto de ley llamado Internet Para Todos Ahora (AB 1665) ha sido respaldado y en co-autoría bipartidista de un total de 22 demócratas y republicanos es que tiene sentido en el aspecto económico. Este extiende un programa ya existente de la Comisión de Suministros Públicos de California, que ha financiado--a través de una cuota de un centavo por mes en la factura de teléfono--58 proyectos de infraestructura de Internet de alta velocidad que han conectado cientos de comunidades a la economía digital.
Usted se preguntará: ¿Por qué es esto necesario? La razón es que California, y especialmente la comunidad latina de California, tiene una brecha inaceptablemente grande entre los que tienen Internet de alta velocidad en sus hogares y los que no. Una encuesta de agosto del 2016 revela que el 31% de los latinos de habla hispana no tienen Internet de alta velocidad y un dispositivo informático en su casa y que el 57% de los californianos de bajos ingresos están sólo conectados con teléfonos inteligentes o no están conectados. Además, la Comisión de Suministros Públicos de California emitió un informe en abril del 2017 que documenta que el 43% de los hogares rurales no pueden obtener banda ancha confiable.
Lo que esto significa es que casi 12 millones de californianos están excluidos de la economía digital. No pueden aplicar adecuadamente para trabajos, hacer tareas, u obtener servicios públicos en línea. El Centro de Investigación de Internet Pew recientemente reveló que los estadounidenses de bajos ingresos siguen relegados en la adopción de la tecnología; el resultado, según Pew, es que una brecha tecnológica entre ricos y pobres está ampliando la desigualdad de ingresos.
Estos datos negativos fueron una gran motivación para los asambleístas Miguel Santiago, Eduardo González, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Eloise Gómez Reyes y Blanca Rubio para la co-autoría de AB 1665. Ellos saben que los individuos y negocios que no tienen Internet de alta velocidad están socioeconómicamente en desventaja y los que tienen conexiones rápidas pueden competir en escuelas y por empleos, clientes y contratos.
Cesar Zaldivar-Motts es director ejecutivo de la Corporación de Desarrollo Comunitario del Sureste (Southeast Community Development Corporation) en Los Ángeles.
Closing the Latino Digital Divide
By Cesar Zaldivar-Motts
These are not bipartisan days. Never before have Democrats and Republicans been so at odds, so embattled.
But California is seeing an exception. The Internet For All Now Act, a bipartisan bill that will close California’s digital divide, is making its way through the Legislature—thanks in large part to Latino elected officials, specifically Assemblymembers Miguel Santiago, Eduardo Gonzales, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Eloise Gomez Reyes and Blanca Rubio.
The reason the Internet For All Now Act (AB 1665) has been co-authored and backed by a total of 22 Democrats and Republicans is that the bill makes economic sense. It extends an already working program of the California Public Utilities Company, which has funded--through a pennies-per-month phone bill surcharge--58 high-speed Internet infrastructure projects that have connected hundreds of communities to the digital economy.
You might ask: Why is this necessary? The reason is California, and especially California’s Latino community, has an unacceptably large divide between those who have home high-speed Internet and those who do not. An August 2016 Field Poll finds that 31% of Spanish-speaking Latinos do not have high-speed Internet and a computing device at home and that 57% of low-income Californians are “under-connected”—either dependent only on a smartphone or completely offline. In addition, the California Public Utilities Commission issued a report in April 2017 documenting that 43% or rural households can’t get reliable broadband.
What this all means is that almost 12 million Californians are shut out from the digital economy. They cannot adequately apply for jobs, do homework, and get health and public services online. The Pew Internet Research Center recently found that lower income Americans continue to lag behind in technology adoption; the result, Pew reports, is that a technology gap between the rich and the poor is widening income inequality.
This negative data was a huge motivation for Assemblymembers Miguel Santiago, Eduardo Gonzales, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Eloise Gomez Reyes and Blanca Rubio to co-author AB 1665. They know that individuals and businesses that don’t have high-speed Internet are socioeconomically disadvantaged and those who have fast connections can compete in schools and for jobs, clients and contracts.
Cesar Zaldivar-Motts is executive director of Southeast Community Development Corporation in Los Angeles.
Imperial Valley Press
Timothy E. Kelley | May 18, 2017
April 26 was an unusual day in California. The Internet For All Now Act, a bipartisan bill that will close the Digital Divide in California, sailed through its first committee hearing with a 12-0 vote — thanks to Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia of the Imperial Valley.
Bill support from 22 Republicans and Democrats is fairly rare in the Capitol. The reason is that the Internet For All Now Act (AB 1665) makes economic sense. It extends an already working program that has funded 58 high-speed (broadband) Internet infrastructure projects connecting over 100,000 households to the digital economy.
You might ask: Why do we need this bill?
The reason is the Digital Divide in California is too large. The California Emerging Technology Fund reported in its August 2016 Field Poll that 30 percent of Californians do not have high-speed Internet and a computing device at home and that 57 percent of low-income Californians are “under-connected”— either dependent only on a smartphone or completely offline. In addition, the California Public Utilities Commission issued a report in April 2017 documenting that 43 percent or rural households can’t get reliable broadband.
What this all means is that almost 12 million Californians are shut out from the digital economy. They cannot adequately apply for jobs, do homework, and get health and public services online. The National Association for College Admission Counseling recently reported that colleges and universities now receive 94 percent of their applications online, up from 49 percent in 2005. And the Pew Internet Research Center has shown that lower income and rural Americans continue to lag behind in technology adoption; the result is that a technology gap between rich and poor and urban and rural is widening US inequality.
This is of particular concern in the Imperial Valley, where some cities and towns have inadequate or non-existent broadband infrastructure and where lower income families struggle to keep up with the digital technology revolution.
This was the main reason Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia authored AB 1665. In his district — which comprises Blythe, Brawley, Bermuda Dunes, Calexico, Calipatria, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, El Centro, Holtville, Imperial, Indio, Mecca, Oasis, North Shore, Salton Sea, Thermal, Thousand Palms, Westmorland, Seeley, Heber, Ocotillo, Heber and Winterhaven — 8 percent of the households can’t get high-speed Internet and 23 percent are low income. Assemblymember Garcia, who is from Coachella, knows firsthand that individuals and businesses which don’t have high-speed Internet are socioeconomically disadvantaged and those who have fast connections can compete in the 21st century.
The Internet For All Act is a $330 million, five-year bill that extends the California Advanced Services Fund, which is the only source of support for broadband unless the Legislature enacts a new fee or tax or does a General Fund budget allocation. My organization, the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation — along with more than 80 other governmental and nongovernmental organizations — support this bill because we understand the CASF will soon be out of funds, yet 360,000 households still need to get connected to reliable broadband. We also understand that Internet service providers will not put broadband in sparsely populated areas with low return on investment. This bill incentivizes those companies to serve 98 percent of the households in the state.
So thank you Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia for authoring and advocating for the Internet For All Now Act. Closing the Digital Divide will strengthen the economic fabric of our home, the Imperial Valley.
Daily Democrat Staff | April 28, 2017
SACRAMENTO >> An agreement that could expand braodband access and digital literacy to communities deprived of reliable internet connections may have been achieved.
According to a statement from Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters, AB 1665 has been passed out of the Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee this week with a 12- 0 vote.
“This bill memorializes the successful negotiation of a $330 million package to expand broadband access and digital literacy to communities deprived of a reliable internet connection,” stated Aguiar-Curry who sponsored the legislation with Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, and Brian Dahle, R-Biebers.
Past efforts to increase funding to close the connectivity gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots,” known as the “Digital Divide,” were intensely opposed by the largest telecommunications companies. AB 1665 is the product of bipartisan legislative leadership. After a three-year stalemate, this bill represents a cooperative effort between legislators and representatives from the telecommunications industry to invest in broadband access and rural development.
“People don’t start businesses in areas where they can’t even send an email,” said Aguiar-Curry. “When I was the nayor of Winters, I watched families get their first email address. I saw farmworkers finally have a platform to talk to their kids’ teachers despite their work hours. I know first-hand how internet access can transform a community. AB 1665 will transform communities across California.”
The California Advanced Services Fund is a state program aimed at closing the Digital Divide. The CASF does not depend upon General Fund dollars, but instead is funded by a small surcharge on in-state phone bills spread out over a 5-year period.
The current goal of this program is to incentivize the expansion of broadband infrastructure to 98 percent of California households. However, Aguiar-Curry and her partners successfully negotiated to expand this goal to 98 percent of households in every geographic region of the state, assuring that rural California would be served as well, instead of the target being satisfied in urban areas alone.
Testifying in support of AB 1665, Assemblymember Dahle said, “Using this regional approach to provide internet to historically unserved and underserved communities, we will be able to help our schools, students, and small businesses, and effectively connect rural constituencies to the rest of the world. This bill will provide services to rural areas of the state that have long been forgotten, or seen as too difficult and remote to provide service.”
Lake County News | April 28, 2017
A bill to expand the reach of broadband services across rural California took a key step forward this week.
AB 1665, joint-authored by several bipartisan members of the Assembly including Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) and Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), passed out of the Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee this week with a 12-0 vote.
This bill memorializes the successful negotiation of a $330 million package to expand broadband access and digital literacy to communities deprived of a reliable Internet connection.
Past efforts to increase funding to close the connectivity gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots,” known as the “Digital Divide,” were intensely opposed by the largest telecommunications companies.
AB 1665 is the product of bipartisan legislative leadership. After a three-year stalemate, this bill represents a cooperative effort between legislators and representatives from the telecommunications industry to invest in broadband access and rural development.
“People don’t start businesses in areas where they can’t even send an email,” said Aguiar-Curry, whose district includes Lake County. “When I was the mayor of Winters, I watched families get their first email address. I saw farmworkers finally have a platform to talk to their kids’ teachers despite their work hours. I know first-hand how Internet access can transform a community. AB 1665 will transform communities across California.”
The California Advanced Services Fund, or CASF, is a state program aimed at closing the Digital Divide.
The CASF does not depend upon general fund dollars, but instead is funded by a small surcharge on in-state phone bills spread out over a five-year period.
The current goal of this program is to incentivize the expansion of broadband infrastructure to 98% of California households.
Los Angeles Wave, April 14, 2017
BOYLE HEIGHTS — In an effort to bridge the digital divide, Charter Communications introduced a new stand-alone low-cost, high-speed broadband service, Spectrum Internet Assist at a special ceremony at Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School.
Spectrum Internet Assist offers eligible customers low-cost broadband speeds up to 30 megabytes per second, which meets and even exceeds the Federal Communications Commission’s definition of “high-speed.” Spectrum Internet Assist includes standard features like email boxes, internet security software and a modem at no additional charge.
Spectrum Internet Assist is now available throughout Charter’s legacy service area, and will continue to be rolled out market by market with a goal of covering the remaining Charter footprint by mid-year.
“We’re excited to bring a whole new world of digital access and opportunity to low income families and seniors,” said Tom Rutledge, Charter’s chairman and CEO. “Spectrum Internet Assist is an important next step in providing true high-speed connections to those who would otherwise continue to face a digital inequality in this country.
Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, chair of the Assembly’s new Communications and Conveyance Committee, joined Charter and other government representatives in an auditorium filled with students and parents April 7 at Stevenson to commemorate the introduction.
They were also joined by the California Emerging Technology Fund, School2Home and the Hollenbeck Youth Center of Boyle Heights.
“In my new role, I am 100 percent focused on what we as a state can do to bridge the digital divide and ensure that everyone has equal access to technology,” Santiago said. “I am proud to stand with Charter Communications as they launch their new Spectrum Internet Assist program in my district. I applaud their efforts toward helping California progress, and I can’t wait to see what these students and teachers are able to achieve with regular access to the most up-to-date information at their fingertips.”
Kayla Nick-Kearney | April 10, 2017
California Broadband Council members met in downtown Sacramento last week to discuss the state’s Internet needs and potential solutions. The meeting was led by California CIO Amy Tong, the council's chair....
A portion of the meeting focused on 5G and the Internet of Things with presentations from Verizon and AT&T on network capabilities.
As more things become connected, more Californians need to be connected, California Emerging Technology Fund CEO Sunne Wright McPeak said in a call with Techwire.
With this in mind, AB980 from Assemblymember Jim Wood was introduced to allow Caltrans to lay broadband conduit in high-priority areas under a “dig-once” plan. Techwire recently wrote about the legislation.
During the council meeting, McPeak discussed other legislation, such as the Internet for All Now Act, which was introduced by Assemblymembers Eduardo Garcia, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Kevin McCarty and a dozen other legislators. The bill, AB 1665, would expand the reach of the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF), a grant program funded through surcharges that was created a decade ago to help bring broadband to unserved and underserved communitites.
“They are stating very clearly that it is the goal of the state of California to close the digital divide,” McPeak said.
CASF, as currently constructed, uses an existing phone surcharge with the overarching goal of bringing broadband infrastructure to 98 percent of households, especially in rural communities. The goal is that 90 percent of all households using high-speed Internet from home have access on a device that is not a smartphone. But a lingering issue is that 14 percent of Californians who do have high-speed Internet only have a smartphone, which makes them underconnected, McPeak said.
“It’s still difficult for a student to do their homework on a smartphone. It’s difficult to get workforce skills if you’re an adult, using a smartphone only,” McPeak said.
Without connectivity, people cannot access government services and town economies cannot compete. Low-performing schools, which are often located in low-income neighborhoods, don't have access to devices, which can lead to stunted digital literacy, she said.
“That all adds up to 12 million people in California who are not participating in the digital economy,” McPeak said.
By Barbara O'Connor | April 10, 2016
Although California is a powerhouse of technology and innovation, the digital divide persists for rural communities and low-income neighborhoods:
▪ 30 percent of all households don’t have high-speed internet service and a computer at home.
▪ 43 percent of rural residents don’t have reliable high-speed internet access.
While the state has made significant progress since 2008 in increasing home broadband use from 55 percent to 84 percent of all households, the sad news is that too many households remain stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide
And, the gulf between the “digital haves” and “digital have-nots” is the greatest for the most disadvantaged residents: While 16 percent of the overall population is not connected at home with high-speed internet service, 32 percent of low-income households, 32 percent of Spanish-speaking families, 29 percent of people with disabilities, 37 percent of adults without a high-school diploma and 44 percent of seniors remain unconnected.
By Eric Cutright | March 24, 2017
Communication woes plague Orleans, California, a small riverside community located in an isolated corner of Humboldt County. Orleans residents have no cell service, and land-line phones suffer from dropped calls, echo, static and multi-hour outages. Traditionally, high-speed internet in Orleans was completely absent, but no longer. The Karuk Tribe launched Áan Chúuphan (“Talking Line”) internet service in October 2015, and during the first 12 months over half of the community signed up for internet access.
The Karuk Tribe constructed Áan Chúuphan with grant funds from federal and state sources, especially the California Advanced Services Fund. CASF provides excellent opportunities for communities that lack broadband to build the modern infrastructure which has become vital for communication in the 21st century. CASF has funded high-speed internet connections to over 300,000 households in California. Unfortunately, the CASF fund is nearly exhausted, leaving millions of California households in digital darkness.
Extending the life of CASF and injecting it with new capital is the best way for Californians to continue to build out new and faster internet to the vast areas of the state still without reliable communications. The Internet For All Now Act (AB 1665) proposes to do just that.
Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia introduced The Internet For All Now Act in the California State Legislature on Feb. 17. If passed, this act will propel additional high-speed internet access throughout the state for 10 more years, adding millions of dollars to CASF with the explicit goal of approving infrastructure projects that will provide broadband access to no less than 98 percent of California households.
By Cesar Zaldivar-Motts | March 10, 2017
In 2007, my wife Emma Hernandez and I finished graduate degrees at University of Kansas and decided to head home and open a bilingual computer training and digital literacy center in Southeast Los Angeles.
The idea was simple: connect the thousands of people offline to the Internet and make sure they have access to affordable computers and broadband, so they won’t be further disadvantaged from education and job opportunities.
Over the years, I have seen the effects of this approach. The Southeast Community Development Corporation has educated more than 4,000 children and adults in digital literacy skills, connected 2,500 people to broadband at home, sold 500 affordable and often refurbished computers and established 12 computer centers throughout Los Angeles.
We have helped kids do their homework, adults get jobs and seniors connect to health services. We are now also focused on teaching advanced computer skills and providing training in robotics, programming, refurbishment and e-waste.
Some have argued that our work should be handled by public libraries or schools. But there are just too many people in our area — many of whom are low-income and Spanish speaking — who are not well served by those institutions due to underfunding. Indeed, a 2016 California broadband survey conducted by the Field Poll found that among the state’s Spanish-speaking Latinos, only 39 percent connect to the Internet through a home-computing device. Those folks may be smartphone literate, but when it comes to higher Internet skills they are being left behind.
Some examples: Recently, a family of four walked through our doors very distressed. The mother and father had been informed by the landlord of their Section 8 housing that their apartment building was being converted and they had 60 days to move out.
The landlord gave them a web address, which he said contained apartment listings, but the couple didn’t have a computer or Internet at home and they didn’t know how to search online. Our technology center staff taught them to search listings and they discovered they had more housing options than they previously thought, giving them a greater sense of control over their lives.
Or take the example of a factory worker in his late 50s who walked through our doors in need of basic computer help. He has landed a job with a local manufacturing company and the last step of the application was beyond him: filling out an online form — something he had never done. We set him up with a computer and walked him through the process. We also showed him websites that listed similar jobs, should he want to consider other opportunities. His eyes were opened to new possibilities.
Or take the example of a mother of four, who stumbled upon the Southeast Community Development Corporation Technology Center after spending $6 printing out her child’s homework at Kinkos, a fee that was bad for her budget. We gave her son unlimited free time to finish his school assignment and charged his mother 10 cents to print out his report. She now brings all of her children to our technology center, so they can properly finish and submit their homework.
Many people, including some of our elected officials, do not know that half of low-income, urban Californians are disconnected from the Internet, do not have computers at home and lack basic digital literacy skills. Even fewer understand the crucial role community-based organizations play to close the digital divide.
But if they want to ensure educational and economic opportunities for all, they must understand this reality. And then they must put power to action and support the Internet For All Now Act.
AB 1665, which has been introduced to the Legislature by Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia with the support of 11 other legislators, largely calls for support of broadband infrastructure in California’s rural and remote areas. A portion of it, however, demands support for community-based organizations, which are making sure that 21st-century skills and technology are available to all.
Cesar Zaldivar-Motts is executive director of the Southeast Community Development Corporation. He also serves on the boards of directors of several community organizations in Southeast Los Angeles County.