Today Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) presented his proposed “Broadband Map Act” in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Assemblyman Wood said, “This legislation builds on a program Governor Schwarzenegger started in 2006, most of us found out about it in 2016, we cannot afford to keep waiting around for Caltrans or anyone else. Let’s get the cables in the ground and give our communities a chance to compete in the 21st Century.”
AB 1549 takes three big steps towards closing rural California’s digital divide.
First, the bill would require Caltrans to notify broadband providers whenever they are planning roadwork that is capable of housing conduit for fiber cables. By allowing providers to piggyback on the already scheduled construction, fiber networks can be expanded for pennies on the dollar.
Second, if no broadband provider is willing to install the conduits where a trench is open and available, AB 1549 would require Caltrans to install their own conduit for future use.
Finally, AB 1549 requires the state to maintain a central database mapping where fiber networks currently exist. This database will be an invaluable tool for future planning and expansion.
“The deployment and expansion of modern telecommunication networks is a priority for RCRC member counties, yet modern communications systems are either non-existent, unreliable, or cost-prohibitive in rural and remote areas,” said Paul A. Smith, Senior Legislative Advocate for the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC). “RCRC thanks Assembly Member Wood for his leadership on AB 1549, which would help expedite the rollout of broadband technology, and more efficiently seize opportunities for deployment.”
AB 1549 was moved to the Suspense File where all bills costing the State more than $50,000 will be voted on during the week of August 12th.