SACRAMENTO, CA â€”Â The California State Assembly voted Thursday in favor of Assemblymember Eduardo Garciaâ€™s (D-Coachella) AB 1665, The Internet for All Now Act of 2017.
AB 1665 will allocate $330 million and extend the soon-to-expire California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) for broadband deployment and adoption in rural and low-income urban areas lacking sufficient internet infrastructure.
The CASF was established by the Legislature in 2008 and is administered by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
â€œThis Internet for All Now Act of 2017 aims to increase connectivity to the more than 5 million Californians stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide. Low-income urban and rural communities like those in my district are most affected by this deficit. Internet access has become a necessity and should be treated as a right, not a luxury,â€ said Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia. â€œProviding this modern day necessity will open up educational, health and economic opportunities and ensure we do not overlook our most vulnerable.â€
This yearâ€™s measure will call upon the CPUC to reach a goal of 98% household connectivity per region. AB 1665 also stipulates greater legislative oversight and accountability over the CPUCâ€™s administration of funds to improve the program.
â€œCollaboration and inclusion were the key principles of this discussion. This feat was made possible through the dedicated efforts of a bipartisan collective of coauthors and the leadership of Chairman Santiago,â€ complimented Assemblymember Garcia.
The Internet For All Now Act addresses the needs of rural and disadvantaged communities like Imperial County, within the authorâ€™s district that are not fully served by large telecom companies.Â
â€œI commend Assemblymember Garciaâ€™s leadership and efforts to close the Digital Divide in California,â€ exclaimed Imperial County Board of Supervisors, Chairman Michael Kelley, District 3. â€œAB 1665 will ensure that vulnerable, disadvantaged communities, such as Imperial County, will receive the support that is needed to increase access to the internet for the residents and businesses in the outlying areas of our County and others like it.Â We look forward to its passage on the Senate side.â€