February 21, 2023 – California made another significant advancement toward broadband connectivity in every corner of the state with its first middle-mile joint-build agreement. The California Department of Technology (CDT) and Arcadian Infracom are partnering to construct 306 miles of the state’s open access network through urban and rural areas between Los Angeles and Needles.
A “joint-build” allows private companies to partner with the state on the middle-mile network, and take advantage of streamlined permitting opportunities made possible by SB 156. The state benefits by sharing construction costs with industry partners that are ready to begin work immediately.
The agreement reached between CDT and Arcadian comes with significant savings. The 306-mile stretch in Southern California will cost approximately 40 percent less per mile, compared to estimates if the state were to take on construction alone.
The route is part of the 10,000-mile network released by CDT in June 2022. It starts in Los Angeles, runs for approximately 112 miles to Barstow, then turns east 144 miles to Needles before turning south 50 miles and meeting up with other planned MMBI network components where SR 95 meets SR 62 at Vidal Junction. The state expects several more joint-build agreements by late March 2023, speeding construction ahead of schedule at reduced cost. Most of the middle-mile construction is anticipated to take place between 2024 and 2026, following Caltrans’ completion of environmental permitting processes.
In addition to the joint-build agreement just signed, the state has invited bids on the entire system through Job Order Contract (JOC) and Construction Management/General Contractor (CMGC) construction contracts as well as the RFI2 process, or Request for Innovative Ideas. The RFI2 solicitation invites vendors to submit offers for IRU/lease, joint-build, purchase, or electronics co-location opportunities. To date, 7,900 miles in construction bids have been received and are being evaluated by CDT and Caltrans.
Since Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 156 into law in July 2021, the state has fast-tracked the development of the middle-mile broadband initiative network to ensure Californians can benefit from the opportunities provided by increased broadband access, which is critical to achieving digital equity and inclusion in the state.
In October 2022, the first middle-mile fiber cable was installed along State Route 67 near Poway in San Diego County, marking the groundbreaking for the 10,000 mile network. That project will help provide broadband infrastructure for more than 675,000 unserved residents.
It is estimated one in five Californians does not have adequate internet connection. 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.
About Broadband for All
In July 2021, Governor Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 156 sponsored by Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon to expand the state’s broadband fiber infrastructure and increase internet connectivity for families and businesses. It includes provisions related to $6 billion in broadband infrastructure funding, including the $3.25 billion initially budgeted to build, operate, and maintain a statewide, 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 and the world. The 2022 budget package allocated an additional $550 million in future General Fund resources for the Middle Mile Broadband Initiative.