Information provided by the Office of State Senator Anna Caballero.
In a recent release, State Senator Anna Caballero announced legislation to bridge the digital divide in rural and underserved communities throughout the state. The Rural Broadband and Digital Infrastructure Video Competition Reform Act of 2021 aims to help rural, underserved communities build broadband networks for state residents that lack access to high-speed internet and service.
If approved, SB 28 would require the Department of General Services, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Education, and the Department of Technology to identify all state real properties, rights of way, and other resources suitable for a public/private partnership for broadband network development. According to the release, agencies would develop a template agreement to enable broadband network developers to utilize the identified state assets in network development planning and deployment plans. The release noted that without any new taxes or fees, the legislation would make it feasible to close the digital divide in these select locations.
“The COVID-19 pandemic placed a spotlight on the inequality caused by California’s persistent digital divide,” Caballero said. “Students, residents and business owners are placed at a huge disadvantage and are struggling to participate in the 21st Century way of life. Now more than ever, we must ensure equal broadband network development across all of California, and eliminate the digital divide.”