Broadband priorities and lessons learned for California’s Central Coast

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

Broadband gaps are easy to find.

Broadband infrastructure priorities for Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties are up for discussion tomorrow, as the Central Coast Broadband Consortium (CCBC) holds its annual meetings with economic development, public works and telecoms professionals. The CCBC is wrapping up the second year of a three year broadband development project funded by the California Public Utilities Commission, via the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF).

The CPUC has asked regional consortia to think about how to identify areas that are eligible for CASF subsidies for broadband infrastructure construction, have the need for it and sufficient resources to support it. The meetings will kick off a two month long workshop on Civinomics.com, an online public policy forum launched in Santa Cruz earlier this year.

With several CASF-funded projects still pending approval for the region, participants will also be looking at the work ahead, assuming the applications are approved. Santa Cruz County’s pioneering broadband development policies will be presented as a model for discussion and, perhaps, adoption across the region. One major project in the pipeline, a 91-mile fiber optic middle mile project stretching from Santa Cruz, to Watsonville, through Castroville, Salinas and Gonzales to Soledad, will particularly need the cooperation of local officials along the route.

They’ll hear from people who have already walked that path – Nate Greenberg from the County of Mono and Julie Langou from the Eastern Sierra Connect Regional Broadband Consortium – during the construction of the Digital 395 project in eastern California. The major challenge for that project wasn’t harsh weather or rocky terrain, although there was plenty of both. Actual construction only required about a year of work. By contrast, environmental and other permit approvals took two years to complete. With the benefit of lessons learned, we hope to do better on the Central Coast.