California leads $45 million in Central Coast Internet grants

(TNS) – Moving to close the digital divide, the California Public Utilities Commission has awarded a total of $45 million in grant funds to three regional Internet service providers, the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership announced recently.

More than half of the nearly $73 million in the statewide pool from the California Advanced Services Fund Broadband Infrastructure Grant Account was awarded to the Central Coast region, according to MBEP, with funding going to upgrade broadband infrastructure broad, addressing critical issues in the digital divide. in underserved and underserved and low-income rural communities.

The Monterey Bay Economic Partnership serves as the Executive Director of the Central Coast Broadband Consortium and appreciates its collaborative efforts with the CPUC movement.

The CPUC recently granted Cruzio Media, Inc. up to $5.65 million to expand medium-mile broadband infrastructure to 759 underserved locations in Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties in rural areas often at risk from natural disasters, according to MBEP. Using state-of-the-art fixed-wave equipment, Cruzio will rapidly deploy gigabit broadband to thousands of locations in this underserved region. Its Equal Access to Sea Summit (EAS2C) project infrastructure is “open access”, meaning other ISPs can jump on board to provide faster and more reliable services to residents throughout the Central Coast.

“Our region has a problem,” explained James Hackett, COO Cruzio, in a press release. “We have rural communities, farmers, low-income communities, then just a short distance away we have Silicon Valley, high-tech and bustling. With the Summits to the Sea project we are working to level the playing field and give everyone a fair shot.”

Monterey County Board of Supervisors representative Luis Alejo recently wrote in a guest commentary for the Monterey Herald that “with the state facing a record budget deficit of $44.9 billion this year, California lawmakers must not back down from this full commitment reducing the $2 billion needed. broadband funding to get the job done.”

In 2021, Senate Bill 126 appropriated $6 billion to bring equitable and affordable high-speed broadband service to all Californians. The multi-year investment aimed to close the digital divide by building the largest Middle Mile and Last Mile high-speed internet project in the country.

But when the Governor’s revised budget was released in May, it included a total of $2 billion in cuts to broadband investments, prompting Sup. Alejo’s comment.

Last week, Alejo posted on social media that the Governor and state leaders had reached an agreement on the state budget and significant money had been restored for broadband infrastructure.

The 2024 Budget Agreement states that it “preserves $250 million for the Mid-Bandband Initiative in 2024-2025 and allows the Director of Finance to increase the budget by an additional $250 million with the consent of the Legislature. Additionally, it reserves $2 billion for Last Mile projects over many years to connect underserved and underserved communities to broadband service.

Surfnet Communications, Inc. has been awarded $10.08 million to deploy last-mile Fiber-to-the-Premises broadband service to 465 eligible locations throughout Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo and Santa Clara counties. Its Tri-County Fiber project aims to provide high-speed, reliable and affordable broadband services, especially to economically and socially vulnerable communities.

The CPUC has approved $29.48 million in grant funding for LCB Communications LLC’s Aromas-San Juan Project, deploying a hybrid broadband network combining Fiber-to-the-Home and Fixed Wireless Access to 1,101 underserved locations in San Benito, Santa Cruz and Monterey. The project involves the construction of medium and high-end infrastructure, addressing the digital divide and access challenges in remote and rugged terrains.

The Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, a member-supported regional nonprofit organization comprised of public, private and civic entities located throughout Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties, says it has championed digital equity in the Monterey Bay region by convening stakeholders and advocating for policies that address the digital divide since 2016. As executive director of the Central Coast Broadband Consortium, MBEP is committed to ensuring 100% broadband access in the Central Coast region through strategic initiatives and collaborative efforts.

© 2024 MediaNews Group, Inc. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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