California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger commissioned the California Broadband Task Force (CBTF) to “remove barriers to broadband access, identify opportunities for increased broadband adoption, and enable the creation and deployment of new advanced communication technologies.” The governor also requested that the CBTF “pay particular attention to how broadband can be used to substantially benefit educational institutions, healthcare institutions, community-based organizations, and governmental institutions.”
Recently this task force issued a report on the state of broadband in California.
The CBTF adopted three key goals:
- California must ensure ubiquitous and affordable broadband infrastructure, made available through a variety of technologies to all Californians.
- California must drive the creation and use of applications that produce the greatest economic, educational, and social benefits for California’s economy and communities.
- California must construct next-generation broadband infrastructure, positioning California as the global economic leader in a knowledge-based economy.
Through analysis of CBTF’s broadband mapping project and independent research, the Task Force determined that California is better positioned than most states on broadband availability and adoption, yet the state lags behind key foreign competitors. Specifically, the CBTF found:
- 96% of California residences have access to broadband.
- 1.4 million mostly rural Californians lack broadband access at any speed.
- Barely more than half of Californians have adopted broadband at home.
- Only half of Californians have access to broadband at speeds greater than 10 Mbps
- (including both upstream and downstream speeds).
- Broadband infrastructure is deployed unevenly throughout the state, from state-of–the-art to nonexistent.
Just as California has invested in other critical infrastructure such as roads, electricity, and water, the CBTF believes that the state must seize the opportunity to promote private-sector investment, leverage public/private partnerships, and lead the effort to increase broadband availability and adoption. But unlike roads, electricity, and water, California’s investment in broadband should not be limited to physical infrastructure, but instead should include policies to increase adoption of broadband technologies.