California invests $100 million for two years of high speed deployment

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has allocated $100 million over two years to the new California Advanced Services Fund (CASF), whose goal is to incentivize companies to expand high speed Internet service to un-served, under served, low income and rural areas of California. Companies who apply are required to match a minimum of 60 percent of the funds they are given.

The funding for the program will come from an existing surcharge on telephone bills. The estimated surcharge will be about five cents each month for an average phone user; however it will come from a reallocation of surcharge proceeds, not an increase in customers' total surcharges.

According to CPUC Commissioner Dian M. Grueneich:

"By leveraging the program with 60 percent or more matching funds, we will be able to provide more of these communities with 21st century broadband technology as well as 21st century opportunities."

As part of the decision to allocate the $100 million for this fund, the Commission also found:

    • Broadband infrastructure is critical to the economic health and welfare of the state and its citizens. Ubiquitous deployment of broadband holds tremendous opportunities for consumers, technology providers, and content providers, and is important to the continued health and economic development in California - home to the leading centers for entertainment and high technology.

"Without a broadband pipe to provide access to the Internet, these unserved communities will become 'digital have-nots'," said CPUC Commissioner Rachelle Chong, the assigned Commissioner of the proceeding. "Policymakers and corporate leaders across the nation have been talking about the importance of deploying broadband infrastructure for years, yet this critical infrastructure is not available throughout the state. It is time to stop talking and finish the job."

The funds will only be allocated to approved high speed Internet deployment projects and may not be used for "general operating and maintenance expenses."

Public-private partnerships like these are a good step to better service for rural, low income and other under served populations, and their efforts are to be commended. 

CPUC promotes broadband service in unserved areas of California to bridge digital divide (CPUC)