There’s not enough money on the table right now to build all the broadband infrastructure that California needs. The California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) was topped up last year by the state legislature, but even so choices have to be made. The California Public Utilities Commission has asked the regional broadband consortia that it’s funding to weigh in on how and where to set priorities.
One such is the Central Coast Broadband Consortium, which covers Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties. I’m on the executive team for that project. We’ve taken the CPUC’s broadband availability data and used it to identify which areas in which communities do not have access to a minimally acceptable level of consumer Internet service: 6 Mbps down and 1.5 Mbps up, which is the standard set by the commission. Then, we added census data and started crunching the numbers.
The first cut at the analysis has been posted as a workshop on Civinomics.com, and anyone who’s interested in either the specifics of broadband in the region or in the general question of how to quantitatively set broadband development priorities is welcome to participate in the discussion. The workshop asks participants for ideas about metrics and thoughts regarding the methodology.
We’ve started out with ranking communities on four metrics: number of people in CASF-eligible areas in defined communities, the percentage of the community they represent, the density of that population and the number of public agencies and other community service sites. The greater the number of people and community service sites, and the higher the population density and percentage of a community involved, the higher the ranking. We’ll be adding household income data shortly.