Senate Passes “Broadband for California” bill to help close the Digital Divide
Sacramento, Calif.- Today, the California State Senate approved the "Broadband for California" bill, authored by Senator Lena A. Gonzalez (D- Long Beach). "Broadband for California," or Senate Bill 1130, aims to decrease the digital divide and increase broadband access to all Californians. Despite being a global center for tech innovation, California has been plagued by inequities in internet access, with African American, low-income, Latino, rural, and elderly Californians disproportionately unable to get online.
"Now is the time to invest in long-term broadband solutions. With so much of work, healthcare, and education happening online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that closing the digital divide is not only about reliability but about equity and access to opportunity. Access to the internet is a necessity, not a luxury," said Senator Gonzalez. "SB 1130 will help address existing inequities in our internet systems," added Senator Gonzalez.
SB 1130 will help close the digital divide by ensuring that existing funds already intended for broadband deployment in the California Advanced Services Fund are more accessible to all communities suffering from a lack of access to functional high-speed internet. In addition, the bill requires that broadband networks built with these funds provide high-speed internet and include more open-access projects. These changes will increase broadband deployment into areas that are currently underserved, while at the same time ensuring that scarce state dollars are well invested in high-quality internet networks that will last communities for decades.
"SB 1130 makes needed changes to the California Advanced Services Fund program to help ensure that rural areas are provided access to high-quality, reliable internet service. The measure also provides equity to non-rural areas of the state that have also been left behind the digital curve. By requiring state monies to fund only future-proof broadband infrastructure, SB 1130 will finally elevate internet access in rural and high-poverty areas to be on-par with more urban and affluent regions of California," said Paul Smith, Senior VP of Governmental Affairs for the Rural County Representatives of California.
The bill received bipartisan support on the Senate Floor and now goes to the state Assembly for its consideration.