Today, it is imperative to have high-speed Internet for employment applications, educational purposes, health services, and other civic activities. Yet, according to the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), more than 300,00 California households can’t participate in our digital economy because they have no high-speed Internet access.
The Legislature established the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) in 2008, and authorized $315 million to be collected in the past 7 years, from a small fee on phone bills, to support deployment of broadband into unserved and underserved areas to help close the Digital Divide. CASF has funded 56 projects and reached 304,835 households. Nevertheless, CASF is out of money for infrastructure deployment with 18 pending projects.
What This Act Will Do
The Internet for All Now Act of 2016 authorizes additional collection of funds into CASF. The Act:
- Authorizes $50M per year for 7 years for total additional funding of $350M into CASF.
- Maintains funding priorities for last-mile, unserved households to achieve the Legislature’s goal of 98% deployment and promise to Rural California.
- Recognizes the need for cost-effective, middle-mile with “first right of opportunity” for incumbent broadband providers to help meet the goal.
- Transitions CASF support to higher speeds (25/3 Mbps) after the 98% goal is met in order to remain competitive and align CASF with FCC new speed goals.
- Ensures that $100 million is used to help those on the wrong side of the Digital Divide learn how to improve the quality of their lives through training and adoption.
- Allocates $10 million to the California Telehealth Network to leverage more than $21 million from the FCC Healthcare Connect Fund to get Californian’s fair share.
- Ensures that the most disadvantaged residents living in publicly-subsidized housing will be online and able to participate in the Digital Economy to get out of poverty.
- Provides proven project management tools for the CPUC to enhance efficiency and effectiveness: project management; value engineering; grants management.
Internet for All Now Endorsements
The Act has received the following endorsements as of April 2016:
- Access Sonoma Broadband
- AltaMed Health Services Corporation
- Amador Tuolumne Community Action Agency (ATCAA)
- Mr. Tom Andriola, VP and CIO, UC Office of the President
- Broadband Alliance of Mendocino County
- California Black Chamber of Commerce (CBCC)
- California Center for Rural Policy (CCRP) at Humboldt State University
- California State Association of Counties (CSAC)
- California Telehealth Network (CTN)
- Central Coast Broadband Consortium with the Monterey County Business Council
- Central Sierra Connect
- Communications Workers of America (CWA)
- County of Butte
- County of Contra Costa
- County of Del Norte, Board of Supervisors
- County of Humboldt, Board of Supervisors
- County of Marin, Board of Supervisors
- County of Mendocino Board of Supervisors
- County of Mono
- County of Monterey
- County of San Benito
- County of Santa Cruz
- County of Siskiyou, Board of Supervisors
- County of Sonoma Board of Supervisors
- County of Tehama, Board of Supervisors
- County of Trinity, Board of Supervisors
- County of Tuolumne, Board of Supervisors
- Cruzio Internet
- Central Sierra Connect with the Amador Tuolumne Community Action Agency (ATCAA)
- Communications Workers of America (CWA)
- East Bay Broadband Consortia (EBBC)
- Eastern Sierra Connect Regional Broadband Consortia
- Eden Housing
- Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board
- Gold Country Broadband Consortium with the Sierra Planning Organization, Sierra Economic Development District, and Sierra Economic Development Corporation (SEDCorp)
- Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP)
- Inland Empire Regional Broadband Consortium (IERB)
- La Clinica de La Raza
- League of California Cities
- Los Angeles County Regional Broadband Consortia (LACRBC)
- Manchester Community Technologies, Inc.
- Marin Telecommunications Agency
- Monterey County Business Council
- Nicasio Landowners Association (NLOA)
- North Bay North Coast Broadband Consortium
- Northeastern California Connect Consortium
- Oakland Technology Exchange West
- Praxis Associates
- Redwood Coast Connect
- Redwood Region Economic Development Corporation
- Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC)
- San Diego Imperial Regional Broadband Consortium
- San Joaquin Valley Regional Broadband Consortia (SJVRBC)
- Solano Economic Development Corporation
- Stanford Health Care
- The Stride Center
- Town of Fairfax, Town Council
- Tuolumne County Economic Development District (TCEDA)
- United Ways of California
- Upstate California Connect Consortium (UCCC)
- Youth Policy Institute (YPI)
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 43% of rural households have access to reliable broadband service. (Source: California Advanced Services 2015 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 out of money for infrastructure deployment. 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.
The Internet For All Now Act (AB 1665) was introduced in the California Legislature in February 2017 by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia with joint and co-authorship from Assemblymembers Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Chris Holden, Kevin McCarty, David Chiu, Susan Eggman, Marc Levine, Kevin Mullin, Anna Caballero, Mike Gipson, Reginald Jones-Sawyer, Jose Medina, Eloise Gómez Reyes, Blanca Rubio, and Jim Wood. AB 1665 authorizes additional collection of funds into CASF. It will:
- Retain the goal to fund infrastructure projects providing broadband access to no less than 98% of California households, but extend the deadline to 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.
- Require the CPUC to consult regional consortia, stakeholders, and consumers about priority areas and cost-effective strategies to achieve the broadband access goal.
- 98% broadband infrastructure deployment in each region.
- 90% adoption of home high-speed Internet service.