How would you like to have faster internet access? A coalition of local and state leaders is urging lawmakers to pass a multibillion dollar proposal to greatly expand broadband internet access in California.
California Forward, a statewide advocacy group, on Tuesday called on the legislature to pass Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $7 billion broadband infrastructure plan. It would expand high-speed internet access to the 2 million Californians who still don’t have it.
"We can no longer simply stand idly by, allowing our most vulnerable children to resort to fast-food restaurants for access to reliable Wi-Fi," former state treasurer John Chung, now a co-chair of California Forward’s Leadership Council, said Tuesday in a press conference.
Chung said the coronavirus pandemic has shown that high-speed access is no longer a luxury, arguing it’s “as vital as electricity and clean water.”
Newsom’s plan includes $4 billion for an open-access middle mile network along CalTrans right-of-ways. Some internet service providers oppose it, arguing it could interfere with their own plans to expand gig-speed internet.
Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez said Newsom’s plan could close the “digital divide” by expanding gig-speed internet to underserved communities across the state.
"That would make high-speed broadband affordable and feasible for every community in California," she said.
The state legislature has until July 1 to pass the broadband package.