By Russ Nichols, Chair of Middle-Mile Advisory Committee and Amy Tong, Senior Adviser to CDT on Broadband
January 20, 2022 — Governor Gavin Newsom launched one of the state’s most important public service projects when he signed last year’s Senate Bill 156 to create an open-access middle-mile network. With millions of our residents currently lacking access to high-speed, reliable broadband, this bill provides the framework for the $3.25 billion investment in the 2021 Budget to build the necessary infrastructure to bring internet connectivity to homes, businesses and community institutions – connectivity that is essential for work, school, healthcare and social interaction.
To provide Californians with more background on this and allow them to explore data that drives its progress, the Middle-Mile Broadband Initiative (MMBI) has launched a new website that features information about the initiative, initial project locations and an interactive map developed by the California Public Utilities Commission with new data that shows potential project areas based on criteria such as unserved locations, adjacency to planned Caltrans projects and public comment.
To meet the objectives of addressing the digital divide, the state’s middle-mile team will continue its due diligence through a transparent process to identify middle-mile projects that reach un- and underserved Californians, are technically feasible, comply with federal funding guidelines, contribute to the overall function of the system and ensure last-mile connectivity.
We are building the middle-mile network based on data and opportunities to improve connectivity that will result in reliable and more affordable service in all regions of the state, including hard to reach rural and tribal communities, and lower-income urban areas.
I invite you to explore the Middle-Mile Broadband Initiative website and learn about the roles and responsibilities of the California Department of Technology, the California Public Utilities Commission, Caltrans, the third-party administrator known as GoldenStateNet, and the nine-member Middle-Mile Advisory Committee. Find links to past meetings, agendas, presentations or watch live. Please join us for our next meeting on Jan. 21.
We expect to announce additional projects later this year.