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Governor announces billion-dollar plan to close California’s digital divide

CENTRAL COAST, Calif. (KION)  Governor Gavin Newsom announced a $7 billion plan Friday to close the digital divide across the state.

In his $100 billion California Comeback Plan, he proposed to close this divide by expanding broadband infrastructure, increasing affordability and enhancing access to broadband for everyone. The $7 billion is expected to be invested over the course of three years.

According to his budget summary, about 83.4% of California residents are using broadband at any speed, and but only 52.4% are using broadband at the speed of 100 Mbps.

In rural communities, he said 51.3% of households do not have any broadband networks offering service at 100 Mbps. On Tribal lands, 28.4% of homes lack broadband infrastructure.

Newsom says those kinds of speeds and the amount of access are not enough for households handling distance learning, telework and online health care.

The May Revision proposes to expand infrastructure using federal ARPA and state funds to create a statewide "middle-mark" network. The hope is that it will provide incentive for providers to expand their service to unserved and underserved areas by reducing upfront infrastructure costs, creating opportunities for municipal fiber networks and promoting affordability.

Newsom said the expansion will also create tens of thousands of jobs.

The May Revision also includes a proposal to create a $500 million Loan Loss Reserve Account to help local governments, tribes and non-profits to get private funding for new municipal fiber networks.

California News / Money / Money / Top Stories / Video
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Jonathan Sarabia

Jonathan is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.

Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson is the Digital Content Director at KION News Channel 5/46.

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