Governor signs rural broadband bill |

Governor signs rural broadband bill

Matthew Renda
Staff Writer

Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 740, which is intended to deliver more high-speed Internet to rural portions of California.

Rural Country Representatives of California expressed support for Brown's action in a news release issued Thursday.

"Nearly 1.4 million rural California residents lack broadband access, making it difficult to obtain basic services and information in California's rural counties," said Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann.

"In today's digital world, it is imperative to our rural economic viability that our communities are connected to the information, goods and services they need. SB 740 helps fulfill the state's commitment to help ensure universal access to basic telecommunications services in all areas of the state."

Several weeks ago, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 740, authored by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-San Fernando Valley, which revises the activities of the California Advanced Services Fund. The fund, administered by the California Public Utilities Commission, provides grants to bridge the "digital divide" and secure greater broadband services in California's un-served and underserved areas.

Funding originates from a modest surcharge that California residents pay on their monthly phone bills.

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The bill authorizes the utilities commission to award broadband infrastructure grants and loans to an expanded group of eligible entities.

The measure also provides an additional $90 million over the next several years to ensure applications are funded and broadband deployment occurs.

"RCRC thanks Sen. Padilla for his hard work in getting SB 740 enacted into law," said RCRC Chairman Kevin Cann.

"Whether it is school children getting connected or public safety services being coordinated through a digital network, we owe Sen. Padilla a debt of gratitude."

A lack of high-speed Internet has dogged western Nevada County's economic prospects for the past decade, officials have said.

A survey of business owners in western Nevada County conducted by the Economic Resource Council in 2011 demonstrated that the paucity of Internet coverage was the single largest issue facing the business community.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email or call 530-477-4239.

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