SACRAMENTO, CA – Assembly Bill (AB) 14, authored by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), and Senate Bill (SB) 4, authored by Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom. AB 14 and SB 4 revolutionize the State’s broadband deployment program under the California Advanced Services Program, and provide 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.
"Governor Newsom’s approval of AB 14 and SB 4 is a historic development for California," said Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters). "In partnership with my colleague Senator Gonzalez, and two dozen of our colleague coauthors, we have highlighted the critical need to modernize our state’s broadband policy and programs, and a commitment to long-term funding to guarantee internet connectivity for all California communities, rural and urban. I am immensely proud that our efforts also contributed to a budget deal between Governor Newsom, Pro Tem Atkins and Speaker Rendon that provided a generational $6 billion investment in broadband infrastructure. Modern, adaptable technology in every corner of our State will provide access to education and job training, health care, Ag-tech, and small business participation in the digital economy. Today, Governor Newsom’s signature has delivered on our commitment to Internet for All."
“This is huge news that will make a significant positive difference in the lives of Californians,” said Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach). “Enacting SB 4 and AB 14 means that children will no longer have to do their homework outside of fast-food restaurants. It means medically fragile individuals will have more access to care via telehealth, and small businesses and workers will have more access to online resources, greater upward mobility, and economic opportunity. The need for high-quality internet and future-proof infrastructure has never been more important than now and I am pleased that my colleagues in the Legislature and Governor Newsom have taken this bold step to help us close the digital divide. Today, California leads stronger than ever toward digital equity and Broadband for All.”
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 and SB 4 offer 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.
These historic votes build upon the Governor’s $6 billion Broadband Trailer bill that 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 and SB 4 are measured and meaningful approaches 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.
Assemblymember 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.