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Broadband projects and policy are moving ahead on California’s central coast. That was my message to a meeting with elected officials from Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, convened in June by the Central Coast Broadband Consortium (CCBC).
The project with the biggest impact on the region is the middle mile link between Santa Cruz and Soledad, which is being built by Sunesys and largely paid for by the California Public Utilities Commission via the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF).
Others include CASF-funded upgrades for Pinnacles Telephone Company in San Benito County and Surfnet in northern Monterey County, municipal dark fiber and conduit systems in Watsonville and Hollister, a city-backed fiber to the premise project in Santa Cruz, a plan for building out fiber infrastructure in unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County and several fixed wireless-based grant proposals for service, primarily in the Salinas Valley.
On the policy side, both the County of and the City of Santa Cruz have approved formal broadband development policies and the City of Salinas and the City of Watsonville have adopted the practice of installing conduit in city street projects.
Looking ahead, the CCBC has a list of 12 high priority projects that were included on a list of statewide priorities adopted by the CPUC. Half of the communities targeted are in the Salinas Valley, where 100,000 people lack access to broadband service that meets the minimum standards set by the CPUC. That’s a huge challenge for the cities – Gonzales, Soledad, Greenfield and King City – affected, as well as several unincorporated communities. It’s a challenge that’s top of mind for the CCBC too.