The California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) has been championing a new law for the state Legislature that will support internet access and broadband adoption for another decade.
The Internet For All Now (IFAN) Act calls for new powers for the state Legislature to authorize additional funding of $500 million for rural and low-income communities across the state over a 10-year period.
Why? Well, principally because the goal of 98 percent broadband deployment, set by the California Legislature, has not been met in many rural communities. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) estimates that only 43 percent of rural households have access to reliable broadband service. (Source: California Advanced Services 2015 Annual Report).
Should the bill pass, IFAN will replace the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) that was established in 2008. Via CASF, the state Legislature has authorized $315 million. This is money raised by collecting a few cents per month on phone bills. CASF has funded 54 projects and reached 304,555 households during its nine-year history.
The focus on rural communities obviously won’t affect us much here in the populous Bay Area. But there are two ways in which the IFAN Act might benefit us.
- IFAN seeks to ensure that all residents in publicly subsidized housing — our poorest residents — are online, so they can participate in the digital economy and have a better chance of getting out of poverty.
- IFAN tackles the remaining issue of improving the use of high-speed internet service at home for the most disadvantaged residents. Its goal is to achieve 90 percent adoption by 2023.