Broadband: Digital Pathway to Economic Prosperity and Quality of Life

Our ability to connect through high-speed Internet access—referred to generically as “broadband”—is improving our lives in many ways—helping us share information and images, research and apply for jobs, stay in touch with loved ones, and access entertainment and news. Broadband saves consumers time and money, increases productivity in the economy, and reduces impacts on the environment. Broadband is essential 21st Century infrastructure in a digital world and global economy. It is vital to the economic prosperity of every community and the quality of life for all residents. And, it is a “green” strategy to shrink our carbon footprint.

Broadband also is a transforming technology—from disadvantaged neighborhoods throughout California to emerging democracies around the globe—changing substantively the conduct of daily lives. The Internet allows people worldwide to connect to one another instantaneously and to access information real time in ways not imagined just a few years ago. In contrast, communities that do not have broadband infrastructure and individuals who are not connected are tangibly disadvantaged in this digital age. Thus, closing the Digital Divide in California has become an imperative to help restore the Golden State as a global economic leader and provide equal opportunities for all residents.

That is why the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) directed the establishment of the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) in 2005 as a condition of approving the mergers of SBC–AT&T and Verizon–MCI. AT&T and Verizon agreed to contribute a total of $60 million in seed capital to launch the independent non-profit organization. CETF began operations in 2007 with an intense FOCUS on achieving success in closing the Digital Divide in California within a decade. The CETF Strategic ACTION Plan is rooted in sound research about “what works” and sets forth the evidence-based strategies that guide the use of seed capital with a set of quantified metrics that drive accountability for RESULTS. This 2011–2012 Annual Report provides an update on progress, and spotlights policymakers and partners who are leading the achievements. It highlights the importance of a policy commitment and dedicated leadership to closing the Digital Divide in California: FOCUS – ACTION – RESULTS