CPUC promotes broadband service in unserved areas of California to bridge digital divide
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today allocated $100 million over two years to the new California Advanced Services Fund (CASF), which will provide incentives to companies to bring broadband service to unserved and underserved areas of California, many of which are rural, remote, or socio-economically disadvantaged communities.
"Today's decision signals that this state is not content to sit around waiting for federal action to bring broadband to every part of our state," said CPUC President Michael R. Peevey. "We encourage every broadband provider in California to be a part of the solution for ending the digital divide in our state and participate in the CASF process."
"The CASF will focus on the unserved and underserved regions of California, enabling us to reach out to the state's low income rural communities," said 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."
Added CPUC Commissioner John Bohn, "This decision represents a critical element in the modernization of California's infrastructure by creating the capacity in the unserved sector to participate in the new California economy."
"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."
Among the findings of today's decision:
· 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.
· California Advanced Services Fund recipients will be subject to specific audit or related verification requirements to verify that funds are spent in accordance with CPUC requirements.
The California Advanced Services Fund will be a new universal service program, beginning on January 1, 2008. It is limited to $100 million over a two year period.