Filling more holes in California's broadband consortia map

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Two more regional broadband consortia are in the pipeline for coastal California. The California Public Utilities Commission has a draft resolution in front of it that proposes putting $550,000 into broadband planning in two new regions: the Pacific Coast consortium for San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties and the North Bay/North Coast consortium for Marin, Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. Both would be funded for two years, getting a total of $300,000 and $250,000 respectively.

The Pacific Coast consortium proposition is straightforward. No one from SLO, Santa Barbara or Ventura applied in the original consortia round in 2011, so it’s one of the blank spots on the consortia map and there are longstanding regional planning and cooperation ties amongst the three counties. A Ventura County economic development organisation will take the lead and handle the financial relationship with the CPUC for the group.

The North Bay/North Coast region is a little more awkward. Two counties – Marin and Napa – are also blank spots, but Mendocino is part of the Redwood Coast region and Sonoma belongs to the Upstate California consortium. Neither fit in with the rest well, though. This new grouping would bring together four exurban counties that should have more in common, including potentially an interest in reviving pieces of the failed Golden Bear project. A Sonoma County economic development organisation is taking management and financial responsibility.

The CPUC has one other consortium application in front of it, for the Tahoe basin. It’s scheduled for a vote next Thursday. The Pacific Coast and North Bay/North Coast are on track for a decision in June.