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California’s $1.86 Billion Federal Broadband Plan Falls Short of “Internet for All”
The California Public Utilities Commission’s proposal to secure $1.86 billion in federal funds to close the digital divide faces criticism for not effectively bringing reliable high-speed broadband to all unserved and underserved locations in the state. The current plan, while ambitious, will not provide “internet for all” in California.
The Urgent Need for Reliable Broadband Access in California
At least 461,481 locations in California, primarily households, lack adequate internet access, leaving approximately 1.5 million Californians without reliable broadband. It is crucial that policymakers act swiftly to address this pressing issue, considering the available state and federal funds as a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to bridge the digital gap.
The Limitations of the CPUC’s Current Plan
The California Public Utilities Commission’s current plan does not align with the goal of providing internet for all. It favors a fiber-only approach, neglecting the importance of a “standards-based, technology-agnostic” delivery approach that includes fiber, fixed wireless, and satellite technology. While fiber is an excellent means of delivering broadband, it can be costly and time-consuming. Therefore, a more diverse approach to broadband delivery is essential to reach all Californians effectively.
Considering Non-Fiber Solutions
Alternative technologies, such as fixed-wireless access, offer a viable solution to fill coverage gaps where fiber deployment is impractical or costly. The latest in fixed-wireless technology can deliver broadband wirelessly without extensive labor or trenching, providing a reliable alternative to traditional fixed-wireless solutions that may lack in service speed and reliability.
The Potential of Next-Generation Fixed Wireless Access
Next-generation fixed wireless access represents a newer and proven technology designed to deliver residential broadband with unprecedented capacity, providing reliable, fiber-class service at mass-scale. This technology is less affected by physical obstructions, inclement weather, and radio interference, making it a promising solution to deliver vital wireless broadband in areas where fiber deployment is unfeasible.
The Consequences of Neglecting Fixed Wireless Technology
The CPUC’s narrow focus on fiber technology may lead to excessive costs, prolonged deployment timelines, and leave many Californians without reliable broadband access. Embracing a diverse approach that includes fixed wireless technology can leverage every possible solution where it is most optimal, ultimately ensuring internet for all in California.
Embracing New Technology for Broadband Expansion
With advancements in broadband access technology, California has the opportunity to expand reliable broadband service to every unserved and underserved household, in line with the national program’s goal of 100% coverage. It is vital to leverage new and proven technologies to ensure that internet access is accessible to all Californians.
Conclusion: Addressing the Digital Divide in California
Ultimately, it is not too late for policymakers to change course and embrace a diverse approach to broadband deployment, ensuring that every Californian has access to reliable internet. California families are relying on the efficient utilization of available funds and the implementation of innovative technologies to bridge the digital divide and provide “internet for all” in the state.