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.