County & Local Efforts to Address Challenge
The State of California and their Public Utility Commission (CPUC) has implemented a few
key strategies to help promote Broadband. The first is the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF). Every ratepayer across the state has a State fee on their monthly phone bill that feeds into this fund (see the CASF item on your bill). The fund was created by the Governor's Broadband Task Force in 2006, and has been renewed and updated to continue offering financial incentive for providers to build and upgrade Internet access in unserved and underserved areas of California.
Second, the State created via the CPUC the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), a non-profit corporation established pursuant to requirements in approving the mergers of SBC-AT&T and Verizon-MCI. The merged companies contributed a total of $60 million over 5 years to advance broadband. CETF works on projects that are funded from their own fund, the CASF, or a combination of the two with most requiring an applicant match.
Third, the State created a California Broadband Council to coordinate State efforts, resources, and assets to help promote broadband deployment. Various resources and news items can be found on their website.
Our local project, the Gold Country Broadband Consortium, is coordinated and funded by the CASF. The projects work plan outlines a four county effort lead by the Sierra Economic Development Corporation (SED Corp) to measure, promote, and expand broadband services across the region. The project team is actively working now and will last for three years. They hope to begin holding community workshops starting in the Fall of 2012 to educate consumers, measure demand and areas of needs, and assist local broadband providers by matching them with consumers in need and various infrastructure funding opportunities. The Consortium has a website here: A local group called the "Nevada County Broadband Advisory Group" is comprised of local leaders, Internet services providers, and concerned citizens. This group is meeting regularly and provides feedback and input into the regional consortium, as well as works on other items to promote local broadband expansion.
The County created the award winning Collaborative Technology Center as part of our main Library branch location in Nevada City. A wide collaboration of community partners came together to support and implement this project which brings free, ultra high speed 1Gbs Internet access on a wide variety of the newest wireless, computer, and tablet systems, in a dedicated technology use space for our local residents.
2019, the Council is now lead locally by the Sierra Business Council who has embarked on a new effort to reenergize these efforts. They have secured an CivicSpark Fellow to spend one year working on these efforts which include conducting new surveys, mapping high need areas, and developing a Nevada County Broadband Plan.