'Internet for All Now' Act Could Bring Internet to Rural California

The bill is headed to the Senate for further consideration.

by Rachel Rosenbaum, Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif. / June 5, 2017
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(TNS) -- The Assembly has passed a bill to help expand broadband internet infrastructure into rural communities in the North State.

Assembly Bill 1665, co-authored by local Assemblyman James Gallagher, will allocate $330 million and extend the California Advanced Services Fund for broadband deployment and adoption in rural and low-income urban areas that lack sufficient internet infrastructure, according to a press release from Gallagher’s office.

The bill, titled Internet for All Now Act of 2017, is headed to the Senate for further consideration.

“A lot of urban areas have been connected, but rural parts of California have been left behind,” Gallagher said in a phone interview Friday.

And the areas underserved or unserved reach expansively throughout his district, he said.

According to a map of Assembly District 3’s wireline service – provided by Gallagher’s office on behalf of the bill’s primary author, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella – most of Meridian is unserved; and areas of Colusa,

Yuba, Sutter, Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties are underserved or unserved.

“The digital divide is just not acceptable in the 21st century. Rural Californians deserve the same access and opportunity as those in urban areas,” Gallagher said in the press release. “AB 1665 will help improve public safety, economic competition, and educational opportunities in the North State and beyond.”

The California Advanced Services Fund was established by the Legislature in 2008 and is administered by the California Public Utilities Commission; the fund is also set to expire soon, according to the release.

The Assembly bill will also “call upon” the CPUC to reach a goal of 98 percent household connectivity per region, and “stipulates greater legislative oversight and accountability over the CPUC’s administration of funds to improve the program,” according to the release.

According to the wireline service map, District 3 is 17 percentage points below the state goal of 98 percent household connectivity. District 3, which Gallagher represents, includes areas from Tehama, Butte, Glenn, Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties.

©2017 the Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.