Legislature Approves Sen. Dodd’s Broadband Expansion Blueprint Bill
SACRAMENTO – The California Legislature today approved a bill from Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that would create a blueprint for accelerating broadband deployment, including expanded wireless access, in an effort to improve connectivity for all Californians, especially low-income people and the underserved.
“It is absolutely critical for all Californians to have adequate connectivity so they may compete in business and conduct their daily lives,” Sen. Dodd said. “There are still far too many people who don’t. My proposal would bring stakeholders together to identify what’s preventing access and plot a course for improvements. It will help ensure a greater number of people have this essential service.”
More than ever, Californians depend on broadband for distance learning, telehealth, public safety, remote work and accessing vital government services. However, many communities across the state continue to lack access, leaving people at an inherent disadvantage and deepening disparities in education, health care and digital skills.
The widespread development of reliable, high-speed broadband is a critical part of the solution – both wireline and wireless options. Buildout of the necessary infrastructure could be accelerated by identifying and removing barriers to expanded deployment.
Senate Bill 717, also known as the Broadband Access Point Investment Acceleration Study Act of 2022, would help address the state’s broadband infrastructure needs. It requires the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, with input from relevant stakeholders and state agencies, to deliver a report to the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2024 on hurdles to broadband development on public and private land, with a focus on low-income and tribal communities. The report would identify bottlenecks, regulatory and otherwise, and put forward meaningful recommendations for solutions on future infrastructure investment.
SB 717 heads next to Gov. Gavin Newsom for a signature.
“As Californians increasingly depend on reliable, high-speed broadband access, we must boost connectivity for all to ensure no one is left behind in the digital economy,” Kiki Lizárraga, vice president of The East Los Angeles Community Union known as TELACU. “SB 717 prioritizes the needs of underserved communities by identifying the barriers to broadband access and providing recommendations on how to close the digital divide quickly and equitably.”
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.