Status quo for broadband policy in Sacramento

by Steve Blum • , , ,

Bradford is back.

There’s no predicting what impact the political upheaval in Washington, D.C. will have on broadband policy and development, but there’s likely to be little change here in California as a result of Tuesday’s election.

The one significant change that was at stake in Sacramento was a possible democratic supermajority in the California legislature. Votes will continue to be counted until Monday, but at this point it appears that democrats will have a supermajority in the assembly, but not in the senate. That means that at least a minimal degree of republican cooperation will be continue to be necessary to pass a budget and any tax hikes, including reauthorisation of the expired tax on phone bills that formerly paid for the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF).

For now, CASF is primarily used to pay for broadband infrastructure construction, mostly in rural areas. Such Californian republicans that survive tend to represent rural areas, which means two things: 1. they might be convinced, as some have in the past, to support reauthorisation of CASF, and 2. they should tend to favor keeping it focused on infrastructure, rather than on social service-focused programs that are more attractive to urban representatives. Overwhelmingly, California cities and suburbs are represented by democrats and already have access to the California Public Utilities Commission’s minimum broadband service level of 6 Mbps download and 1.5 Mbps upload speeds.

One urban democrat who understands both sides of that equation will be returning to the California legislature. Steven Bradford, who was the key player in the 2013 reboot of CASF, won a Los Angeles senate seat. As an assemblyman, he chaired the assembly utilities and commerce committee and was an active participant on the California Broadband Council. It’s too early to know for sure whether he plans to continue that work in senate, but the political betting line says he will.