Senate Approves Sen. Dodd’s Broadband Upgrade Bill
SACRAMENTO – With the demand for reliable, high-speed internet service higher than ever, the California Senate today overwhelmingly approved legislation from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would improve connectivity -- especially for low-income and underrepresented communities -- by removing local government roadblocks to the expansion of improved broadband service.
“For too long, telecommunication projects have been delayed by confusing regulations, entrenched in excessive bureaucracy,” Sen. Dodd said. “Mountains of red tape have prevented much-needed improvements to the internet at a time when families are relying more on it for remote school and work. Today’s passage of my bill is an important step toward fixing that problem and ensuring everyone can cross the digital divide.”
Sen. Dodd’s legislation comes as employers and schools across our state have shifted to virtual participation, highlighting disparities of access faced by low-income families and people of color. Nearly 42% of California families said unreliable internet access was a challenge for them during distance learning according to a recent poll by EdSource and FM3 Research.
Senate Bill 556 would make high-speed internet more broadly available for schools and businesses by removing local discretion to put roadblocks before small cell deployment – something that is critical for reliable high-speed internet. It builds on existing law setting timelines and reasonable fees for processing and approving broadband projects. Instead of having to sue to get project approval, the bill will result in quicker decisions and ultimately more robust coverage.
SB 556, which is widely supported by businesses and schools, passed the Senate on a 31 to 2 vote. It heads next to the Assembly.
“People increasingly rely on wireless services for virtually every communication and broadband access need, including telehealth, distance learning and working from home,” said Lynn Mackey, superintendent of Contra Costa County schools. “This bill will close the digital divide and ensure better connectivity for all Californians.”
Senator Bill Dodd represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Solano, Yolo, Sonoma, Contra Costa, and Sacramento counties. You can learn more about the district and Senator Dodd at www.sen.ca.gov/dodd.