Lake County News: Aguiar-Curry, Gonzalez lead legislators’ push for $3.5 billion broadband investment
Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) and Senator Lena A. Gonzalez (D-Long Beach) have led a group of 17 members of the California Legislature in calling upon the governor and legislative leadership to support a major investment in broadband infrastructure and service for Californians without reliable, affordable internet.
The effort comes as the governor considers adjustments to his January budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2021-22 in the annual “May Revision.”
The letter calls for a $500 million allocation in funds from the American Rescue Plan to support the deployment of broadband municipal fiber networks by local governments.
The group, which includes Aguiar-Curry, Gonzalez, Sens. Anna Caballero (D-Salinas), and Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), and Assemblymembers Autumn Burke (D-Inglewood), Sabrina Cervantes (D-Riverside), Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella), Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton), Eloise Gomez Reyes (D-Grand Terrace), Luz Rivas (D-Arleta), Robert Rivas (D-Hollister), Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley), Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton), Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), and Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) calls for a significant $3 billion investment to further target and support broadband infrastructure deployment by local agencies, nonprofits and internet providers who apply under the California Advanced Services Fund program.
The Newsom administration’s Public Utilities Commission has estimated the necessary investment to bring Californians up to federal standards established by the Federal Communications Commission at almost $6.8 billion.
This estimate comes before the FCC considers updating the standard of 25 mbs upload/25 mbs download to greater speeds to keep up with improving computer technology to support such services as online education and job training, Telehealth, Small Business access to the Digital Economy, and public access to e-commerce and a growing array of government services online. Higher standards will require even greater public investment.
"Even before the pandemic, which shone a glaring light on Californians’ lack of reliable, affordable internet services, we knew access to the internet is an essential requirement for participating in the promise of today’s online world," said Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters). "The California of today cannot lead our people into the future with the technology of the past. In partnership with Senator Gonzalez and our many colleagues in the Legislature, we can provide that future for every home and business in our State. The time to strike is now, with budgetary investment to support the policy in our legislation."
“This year we must take meaningful action to close the digital divide,” said Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “That means we need substantial monetary investments in addition to policy reform, to ensure that broadband infrastructure is deployed in the unserved and underserved communities that need access to high-speed internet the most. We already know how important this is. Broadband is a necessity, just like electricity and water, and every Californian deserves to have access to the vast myriad of benefits afforded by the internet, including educational, social, and economic opportunities. I thank Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry for her continued support, and all members who have signed on to this letter in support of greater financial investments that will take us one step closer to true Digital Equity in California.”
Aguiar-Curryrepresents the Fourth Assembly District, which includes all of Lake and Napa Counties, parts of Colusa, Solano and Sonoma counties, and all of Yolo County except West Sacramento.