SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Calif. Senate Bill 740 by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) was signed by Governor Jerry Brown today. The legislation authorizes the California Public Utilities Commission to award broadband infrastructure grants and loans to entities that are uniquely suited to provide broadband access in remote areas of California. The bill goes into effect immediately.
“I thank Governor Brown for signing SB 740. This new law continues the state’s critical investment in our digital infrastructure so that every Californian has access to broadband,” said Senator Alex Padilla.
“High-speed Internet service is a vital aspect of modern life – everything from communicating with friends and family to access to jobs, education, health care, public safety, government services, and commerce are facilitated by broadband connections. In our 21st Century digital economy, broadband is a key component for economic opportunity for both individuals and communities,” added Padilla.
The new law expands eligibility requirements and funding for the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to support broadband infrastructure in the most remote areas of the state that still lack high-speed Internet access. It would give the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) flexibility to award CASF grants to entities that are uniquely suited to provide broadband access in the last remaining unserved areas, thereby advancing state policy to ensure that all Californians are connected.
Senator Padilla authored SB 1193 in 2008, which established the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF), and SB 1040 in 2010, which authorized a revolving loan program in order to ensure broadband access to every corner of California. The bills were in response to a report released in January 2008 by the California Broadband Task Force, which found that more than 1.4 million residents in the state lacked access to broadband and nearly 50 percent rely on low-speed dial-up Internet.
Since implementation of the CASF, more than $200 million in grants and loans have been awarded from the California Emerging Technology Fund, federal broadband grants, and private investment to bring broadband to unserved areas of the state, leaving approximately 225,000 without access. SB 740 will enable these last remaining unserved households to be connected to broadband.
Senator Alex Padilla, 40, graduated from MIT with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He currently serves on the Board of MIT and is President of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. He is Chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and represents the more than 1,100,000 residents of the 20th State Senate District in Los Angeles.