CETF 2016 Survey of Local Government Officials
Finds Broadband Is Highly Connected to Community Well Being and Economic Development
Los Angeles and San Francisco, CA—November 16, 2016—Following on its 2016 Annual Survey on Broadband Adoption in California, the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) reached out to County, City and School District officials to better understand their views on broadband and found that 77% view high-speed Internet as “very important to the future economic prosperity and quality of life in their jurisdiction.”
Among the 250-plus respondents to the survey, the majority were city officials representing jurisdictions of 10,000-49,999. Sixty percent were elected officials and 50% represented rural communities—areas where the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) estimated per an April 2016 report that only 43% of rural households have access to reliable broadband service.
Other findings in the CETF 2016 Survey of Local Government Officials included:
- 73% report broadband is very important to their jurisdictions’ small and large businesses
- 53% report their low-income residents are not connected at home to broadband
- 63% report broadband is a very important issue to residents
- 57% report that schools are very able to provide computing devices and broadband in classrooms
- 22% report that schools always allow students to take home computing devices to do homework
- 65% report their jurisdiction would benefit greatly from telehealth-telemedicine technology and capabilities
- 78% report broadband availability and speed are neither very high nor very low
- 71% report their jurisdiction is fairly advanced in providing information and services online
- 71% report their jurisdiction uses electronic communications quite often to reach residents
- 55% report their workforce is prepared to use computing and Internet navigation skills to fill available jobs
- 36% report that broadband is very adequate for public safety and emergency responses
“These findings provide further evidence that it is vital the Legislature pass the Internet For All Now Act, which CETF will promote in the next legislative session,” said Sunne Wright McPeak, President and CEO of CETF. “This legislation is essential to replenish the California Advanced Services Fund, the only source of state assistance to close the Digital Divide in California and level the playing field for those excluded from our digital economy.”
Among the individual comments to the survey were:
Timothy Stearns, Mt. Shasta City Council Member (Siskiyou County): “The State should provide matching funds to enable rural California cities to provide to residents, businesses, healthcare providers, schools, libraries and public safety providers Internet speeds comparable to what is available in metropolitan cities throughout this nation.”
Lee Adams, Sierra County Board of Supervisors Member: “Every home in California with electricity should have broadband.”
Judy Morris, Trinity County Board of Supervisors Member: “Please do not let rural California fall further behind in educational, health and economic development opportunities.”
John M. Vasquez, Solano County Board of Supervisors Member: “Broadband is the highway of now and the future, it will not only bind the nation but the world.”
Peter Lacques, Fairfax Town Council Member (Marin County): “We have a huge demand which our jurisdiction can’t fill due to capital costs. We need a regional JPA to acquire and administer a fiber optic network for all our residents:
Jeffrey Collings, Mt. Shasta Mayor (Siskiyou County): “Stop talking about it; actually do something. Low population density towns that have high costs per household to rollout fiber need funds for a ‘down payment’ on our public private partnerships. About 30% from the State with the balance from the City will work. Private companies (ATT, cable, etc.) cannot and will not make this investment, as the breakeven is way too high relative to realistic take rates and prices for services. Do for broadband what government did for electricity; it's a utility subject to public regulation. Get it.”
Alan Peterson, Merced Union High School District Superintendent (Merced County): “We need to provide Internet to all of our students so they can overcome social and geographical boundaries.”
John Huerta, Jr., Greenfield City Council Member (Monterey County): “To Policymakers: Please assist rural communities who do not have access to broadband for economic, educational and service upgrades for our growing communities. “
Benjamin Picard, Sunnyvale School District Superintendent (Santa Clara County): “Broadband is a right and a necessity for an educated and competent electorate.”
About the California Emerging Technology Fund
The mission of CETF is to close the Digital Divide. The overall goal is to reach 98% of all California residences with broadband infrastructure and to achieve 80% home broadband adoption by 2017 (with no region or demographic group less than 70% adoption). CETF is technology neutral: “broadband” is a generic term for high-speed Internet access—wireline and wireless Internet service is faster than a dial-up connection. CETF drives to achieving these goals through public awareness and education, grantmaking to community organizations, and advancing public policy. For more information, please visit www.cetfund.org.
Social and Economic Justice for Californians in the Digital Age
Today, high-speed Internet (broadband) access is essential for homework, employment applications, job training, health services, and civic activities. Yet 16% of Californians do not have high-speed Internet at home and 14% connect to the Internet only with a smartphone. Too many low-income, rural, and disabled Californians are disenfranchised from our Digital Economy because of cost and lack of access. (Source: 2016 Survey on Broadband Adoption in California, Field Research Corporation)
The California Legislature’s goal of 98% broadband deployment in 2017 has not been met for many rural communities. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) reported that only 47% of rural households have access to broadband Internet. (Source: California Advanced Services 2016 Annual Report)
Only the Legislature Can Authorize Collection of More Funds into the California Advanced Services Fund
The California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) was established in 2008 by the Legislature and CPUC to close the Digital Divide. CASF provides: grants and loans for deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas; grants to regional consortia to advance broadband deployment, access, and adoption; and grants to public housing for access and/or adoption activities. Over the last 9 years the Legislature has authorized a total of $315 million into CASF by collecting a few cents per month on phone bills. CASF has funded 58 projects to reach 110,755 households at an average CASF subsidy of $1,644 per household. CASF is cost-effective compared to the FCC Connect America Fund 2 average subsidy in California of $2,550 per household. CASF is almost out of money for infrastructure deployment with project applications pending and more in the pipeline. CASF is the only source of support for broadband unless the Legislature enacts a new fee or tax or does a General Fund budget allocation.
What AB 1665 Will Do
- Fund infrastructure projects that provide broadband access to no less than 98% of California households by December 31, 2023.
- Establish a new Broadband Adoption Account to assist low-income Californian households in getting online.
- Require the CPUC to biennially report on CASF to the Legislature.
- Require the CPUC to identify priority unserved and underserved areas and delineate the priority areas in the biennial reports.
- Require the CPUC to consult regional consortia, stakeholders, and consumers regarding priority areas and cost-effective strategies to achieve the broadband access goal through public workshops conducted at least annually.
- 98% broadband infrastructure deployment in each region.
- 90% adoption of home high-speed Internet service.
Questions about which service is best for you?
Call 1-844-841-INFO (4636) to speak with a member at one of our trusted community-based organizations. The representative at this number is here to help you sign-up for affordable broadband with the provider and avoid being overcharged. If you would prefer to call your provider directly, prepare for the call by following the below step-by-step process.
Choosing an Affordable High-Speed Internet Provider
Choosing an affordable high-speed Internet provider requires a number of decisions and calculations. Not all Internet Service Providers are available in all regions of California. In fact, most areas are covered by only a few providers. The information below is a step-by-step guide to finding affordable offers.
STEP 2: Determine which Internet Service Provider serves your location and review the offers in your area to comparison shop.
STEP 3: Determine your data usage. Every household uses the Internet differently. If you only send e-mails and do basic research online, you will need a low data usage plan. If you plan to stream movies, play videos games, or having multiple people using multiple devices simultaneously, you will need a higher data usage plan.
High-speed Internet (broadband) access is critical for succeeding in the 21st century.
Whether the goal is to find a job or learn new skills, Californians with low incomes can benefit from having broadband at home.