The pandemic has exposed all kinds of inequalities, including high-speed internet access. Almost a quarter of California households did not have a broadband subscription in 2019, reports the California Broadband Council, a state advisory body.
Pandemics have also made fast and reliable internet connectivity at home more important than ever. Patients could meet doctors securely via video chat, students took classes at Zoom, and some business owners were the first to create and float an online presence.
During the Milken Institute’s September 21 discussion of California’s digital divide in Santa Monica, experts and stakeholders reviewed recent efforts at state and federal levels to address this issue.
Executives of industry groups representing the interests of large Internet service providers and business owners in counties with spotty Internet access expect the new state program to be the main obstacle to the move. broadband access in California. Maybe building new infrastructure actually increases internet access.
Here are three points.
Barriers to Internet access are not limited to physical barriers.
Parts of California lack the physical infrastructure (eg, fiber optic cables) for proper broadband connectivity.
However Cannot afford internet connection A monthly bill or internet connected device is another hurdle for many residents. The other is the digital literacy surrounding broadband. Many Californians don’t know how to set up and use the Internet.
Sunne Wright McPeak of San Francisco, president and CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund, is to be delivered to low-income communities through trusted messengers, groups who are already in touch and can provide information in the language. It is said. Residents understand better.
However, physical infrastructure remains a major obstacle. Clientworks Inc, an IT services company based in Nevada City. Michael Anderson, founder and CEO of the school, said schools in his area provided students with 2,000 wireless access points, but the cell phone tower had not improved. Later, a cell phone tower crashed in the area, preventing children from going online. According to Anderson, the students had to go to the school parking lot to log in and do their homework.
With good broadband access, micro businesses have thrived in a pandemic.
Alexandra Rosen, senior director of VentureForward, a multi-year study funded by web services company GoDaddy, said micro in areas where broadband is good for investigating these very small businesses and entrepreneurs. Business also tends to grow.
Venture Forward surveyed 20 million micro-businesses nationwide and found unemployment rates were falling through pandemics in areas with many businesses connected to the internet.
âWe didn’t have to lay off our people because we could go online and serve other markets,â Rosen said.
State and federal initiatives are spending billions of dollars to bridge the digital divide.
The California State Parliament and Legislature have pledged an estimated $ 7.5 billion to bridge the digital divide in California. California’s New Broadband Infrastructure Package According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the state’s largest investment in public textiles in US history.
One of the programs in this package is the state-owned Open Access Intermediate Mile Network. A sort of public relations highway where small roads branch out into people’s homes. The idea is that the state will build highways and Internet service providers will build driveways leading to people’s homes.
âIf we don’t focus on the last mile consumer, we risk wasting a lot of money,â says Wright McPeak.
Carolyn McIntyre, president of the California Cable and Telecommunications Association, which represents the state’s largest Internet service provider, said “last mile coverage” requires a public-private partnership and that local governments can be able to provide this connection. McIntyre also said he hopes part of the government funding will go to grants to build last mile connectivity.
âThis is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,â McIntyre said of the significant government funding. âIt is very important that the priorities are set correctly and that the funds are sent to the areas where they are most needed. “
Grace Gedye is a reporter for Cal Matters.
Broadband Inequalities Persist in California, Says State Council Reports Source Link California Broadband Inequalities Persist, Says State Council Reports