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.