Governor signs bill that can help improve rural access to broadband services
SACRAMENTO – On Friday Assemblymember Jim Wood’s (D-Healdsburg) legislation to improve access to broadband technology, AB 1549, was signed by the Governor.
This bill requires the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to notify companies and organizations working on broadband deployment, such as the Redwood Coast Connect Consortium and the Broadband Alliance of Mendocino County, of projects that involve construction methods suitable for installing broadband conduit and to place these notifications on the Caltrans website. It also allows interested companies and organizations to collaborate with Caltrans to install broadband conduit as part of each project. In addition, Caltrans, beginning in 2018, must develop guidelines to facilitate the installation of broadband conduit on state highway rights-of-way.
“Rural California’s access to broadband service is woefully behind the times,” said Wood. “This bill creates a perfect opportunity for broadband companies to expand their networks by leveraging state infrastructure projects where Caltrans is already opening a trench,” said Wood. “If broadband companies take advantage of those opportunities, it will bring the benefits of 21st century technology to many of our rural communities, including much of my district.”
“AB 1549 is incredibly important to providing better broadband connectivity at a reduced cost,” said Connie Stewart, Executive Director of the California Center for Rural Policy.” It’s wonderful that Assemblymember Wood is fighting for legislation that will not only help the North Coast, but all of rural California.”
“AB 1549 is an important beginning. Although public-private partnerships is one way to improve access to technology, much more needs to be done in a state that leads the country in new technology yet does not make it accessible for everyone,” said Wood.