In October, Gov. Gavin Newsom held a press conference in San Diego County to announce that the construction of the Middle-Mile Broadband Initiative had commenced.
A collaboration between California’s Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Department of Technology, the initiative’s purpose is to construct a 10,000-mile-long broadband network to provide open internet access statewide by the end of 2026.
The Middle-Mile project was authorized by Senate Bill (SB) 156, announced by Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) in July of last year.
“California is now one step closer to making the digital divide a thing of the past,” said Newsom. “This is about ensuring that all Californians, no matter the zip code they call home, can be part of the Golden State’s thriving and diverse economy.”
Once the network has been constructed, the state will provide funding for “last mile” efforts which refers to infrastructure that connects the network to “end-use” entities such as homes and businesses.
The Middle-Mile Initiative boasts a $6.5 billion budget to extend and improve internet access for “unserved and underserved communities” such as Indigenous American reservations, some low-income neighborhoods, and rural areas.
“So, I really want to underscore that our stance on digital equity is that it’s a 21st century civil right,” Sunne Wright McPeak, President and CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), told California Black Media (CBM).