Information provided by Caltrans
Caltrans announced construction began in rural San Diego County on the first leg of the 10,000-mile broadband network aimed at bringing high-speed internet services to all Californians so they can access emergency information, telehealth services, education and employment.
The news release said in July 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 156 to expand the state’s broadband fiber infrastructure and increase internet connectivity for families and businesses. It adds that the law includes provisions related to the $3.25 billion initially budgeted to build, operate and maintain an open access, state-owned Middle Mile network – high-capacity fiber lines that carry larger amounts of data at higher speeds over longer distances between local networks. The 2022 Budget Act included an additional $550 million General Fund to support the Middle Mile Broadband Initiative.
According to a map, 74 miles of the system, which is known as the Middle Mile broadband network, will go through San Benito County.
The announcement said Construction began Oct. 13 on State Route 67 near Poway in San Diego County, where Newsom Administration officials gathered as 500 feet of fiber optic cable was blown through conduit in the first segment of a massive, $3.8 billion statewide project.
The planned network, which will be the nation’s largest, according to the release, will cover the state to help bring reliable, high-speed internet access to the millions of Californians who do not have it now. The state said roughly one in five Californians do not have access to reliable and affordable high-speed internet.
Once complete, funding for “last mile” efforts will support internet connections from “middle mile” lines to homes and businesses, as well as efforts to ensure individuals can afford broadband service where it already exists.
“Beginning construction on the middle-mile network is a significant step toward broadband equity and providing all Californians the opportunity to access critical information,” said Secretary of State Transportation Agency Toks Omishakin. “High-speed internet is much more than a connection – it’s a lifeline that families need to work, learn, and access critical services.”
According to the release, construction on the first segment of the Middle Mile network follows more than a year of planning.
“The rapid planning by the Middle Mile team as well as our local partners is coming to fruition,” California Department of Technology Director Liana Bailey-Crimmins said. “It’s wonderful to see the hard work paying off, to make a difference in the lives of Californians who live in unserved areas like this one.”
Caltrans Director Tony Tavares said each of the Department’s 12 districts is working to build segments of the Middle Mile network on an ambitious timeline in the hope of capturing the maximum amount of federal funding available.
“This project provides a wonderful opportunity for us to ‘dig smart’ and highlights the benefits of coordination among state agencies and with our local partners,” said Tavares. “Caltrans is proud to partner with the Department of Technology to create a broadband Middle Mile network, providing equitable, high-speed broadband service to all Californians.”
According to the release, once the Middle Mile network is complete, local carriers will have access to the network to provide communities with direct service to homes and businesses as well as reduced-cost or free broadband internet service for those who are eligible.
It added California received federal funding in 2021 with the passage of the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), both aimed at helping the nation recover from the COVID-19 pandemic with wide-ranging infrastructure investments including affordable access to high-speed broadband for individuals, families and communities so they may work, learn and connect remotely.
Californians interested in seeing if they qualify for discounted high-speed internet services available now may learn more at the state’s Broadband for All website.
The release said the design and construction of the middle mile network is overseen by the Middle Mile Advisory Committee (MMAC) with expertise from GoldenStateNet, the state’s consultant.For more information and interactive maps outlining the 10,000 mile system, please visit the Middle Mile Broadband Initiative website.