On August 14, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-73-20, which instructs California agencies to employ specific measures to bridge the existing digital divide among residents. Weeks later, on September 18th, the California Public Utilities Commission’s (“CPUC”) issued this Order Instituting Rulemaking to identify the short and medium-term actions required to accelerate broadband deployment. 

Next Century Cities (“NCC”) submitted public comments before the CPUC on behalf of NCC’s 32 member municipalities. The October 12th filing includes local perspectives on successful broadband deployment strategies, reiterates the importance of network resiliency, and describes ways to improve broadband opportunities for California residents in low-income, redlined, and Tribal communities.

Tom Mullen, the Chief Data Officer, weighed-in on behalf of Riverside County: 

“The pandemic has shined a bright light on the ongoing struggle in many communities to gain access to high-speed broadband services and break through the digital divide. Old processes and programs need to be streamlined and updated to speed up how we overcome the problems so many now recognize in urban, suburban, and rural regions of our state of accessing online learning, connecting with health providers, and working from home.” 

The CPUC has the opportunity to connect residents across the state by supporting local broadband solutions. No single solution works for every community, but local leaders are innovatively developing new ways to ensure that their residents have the tools and resources they need to get online. Considering that state policies have a direct impact on local broadband solutions, we applaud the State’s intent to improve connectivity and ensure that all residents have reliable, affordable, high-quality broadband.