Bill Will Deliver 21st Century Connectivity to All Californians
SACRAMENTO – Today, Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) passed Assembly Bill 14, known as the Internet for All Act of 2021, with a 62-7 vote on the Assembly Floor. AB 14 revolutionizes the State’s broadband deployment program under the California Advanced Services Program, and provides new and increased funding to bring California into the technological 21st Century.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the massive gaps in internet connectivity at sufficient speeds for too many Californians. As more Californians have struggled to conduct distance learning, virtual work, access telehealth services and safeguard small business participation in the virtual marketplace, the need to connect the State at sufficient speeds with adaptable technology has reached crisis proportion.
"Even before the pandemic, which shone a glaring light on Californians’ lack of reliable, affordable internet services, we knew access to the internet is an essential requirement for participating in the promise of today’s online world," said Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters). "With the passage of AB 14 and SB 4 from our respective houses today, the effort to offer all Californians the access they need to internet-based services like Telehealth, the digital economy, and education and job-training is closer to becoming a reality. The California of today cannot lead our people into the future with the technology of the past. In partnership with Senator Gonzalez and our many colleagues in the Legislature, we can provide that future for every home and business in our State."
“As a proud principal coauthor of AB 14, I look forward to continue working with Assemblywoman Aguiar-Curry, the Newsom Administration and stakeholders to help fund broadband infrastructure and provide fast internet connectivity to more families across our state. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how critical it is that families have access to fast internet connectivity to meet the needs of daily life,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “The digital divide impacts low income, rural, and urban communities of color the most. That is a huge injustice and that is why we must address the digital divide with urgency, to make sure all Californians have the internet connectivity they need to learn, work and socialize online, especially as we continue to work through the challenges of this global pandemic.”
The Internet for All Act of 2021 prioritizes the deployment of broadband infrastructure in California’s most vulnerable and unserved rural and urban communities by extending the ongoing collection of funds deposited into the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to provide communities with grants necessary to bridge the digital divide. AB 14 offers a vital pathway to connect California’s workforce to gainful employment, harness the life-saving technology of telemedicine, democratize distance learning, enable precision agriculture, and sustain economic transactions in the 21st Century E-Marketplace.
The Act extends eligibility for grants administered by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to local and tribal governments, who are willing and able to quickly and efficiently connect households, community anchor institutions (including educational institutions, fairgrounds for emergency response, and healthcare facilities), small businesses, and employers. AB 14 is a measured and meaningful approach to building a statewide fiber middle-mile network that will provide higher speeds and access to connectivity to all those who are unserved along the path of deployment.
Aguiar-Curry represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes all of Lake and Napa Counties, parts of Colusa, Solano and Sonoma Counties, and all of Yolo County except West Sacramento. www.asm.ca.gov/aguiar-curry