Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) applauded Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing on July 20 of Senate Bill 156, a $6 billion framework for universal broadband approved by the state Assembly and Senate.
“The time for universal high-speed internet is right now,” said Santiago, chairman of the Assembly Committee on Communications and Conveyance. “The pandemic exposed the massive divide between those who have computers and internet, and those who do not. To close this divide, we must deliver a monumental investment in public broadband infrastructure by bringing access to affordable high-speed internet to underserved communities in an equitable manner. The agreement we fought for in SB 156 will accomplish just this.”
Approximately $3.25 billion will be used to build a statewide open-access system that will help bring internet service to rural areas, and will introduce competition in urban areas to reduce prices.
An additional $2 billion is being committed for “last mile” infrastructure projects in rural and urban areas to connect underserved households to high-speed internet, with $1 billion initially reserved for urban areas. Lastly, the legislation includes $750 million for a loan-loss reserve account to help local governments and nonprofits secure funding for municipal broadband networks.
The $6 billion package will be funded through the state’s general fund and the federal American Rescue Plan Act.