Kayla Nick-Kearney | June 8, 2017
The Internet for All Now Act of 2017 has been approved with a price of $330 million by the Assembly and is moving to the Senate.
Assembly Bill 1665, which includes 23 bipartisan co-authors, extends broadband deployment to rural and low-income urban areas through the California Advanced Services Fund.
“Digital deserts,” or underserved communities, include Visalia, Tehama and Lassen, according to Sunne Wright McPeak, CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund. The California Advanced Services Fund will provide the money necessary to build out the network. The fund was rededicated in 2008 to broadband deployment.
“Before that, it was used for telephone subsidies, so it’s been collected for decades,” McPeak said.
As the telephone subsidy fund, $300 million was collected each year. In 2008, $315 million was assigned to the broadband effort.
“This is, again, the Legislature stepping up, continuing to address the digital divide, using an existing source that is a modest surcharge, a lot less than it used to be for telephone service, but giving us a tangible amount for leveraging private capital, leveraging other public dollars and other public resources,” said McPeak.
The money will be divided into three parts: $300 million will be spent on infrastructure, $10 million for resources and $20 million to get the “lowest of the low-income households online.”
“Having the technology is one thing,” McPeak said. “We actually need to use it, and then we become a lot more efficient in our economy.”