Salinas Valley towns top regional broadband priority list

25 February 2014 by Steve Blum
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Heat map of broadband desert.

The latest rev of a regional broadband priority analysis for the Central Coast Broadband Consortium shows that Salinas Valley communities would see the greatest benefit from broadband infrastructure development, and be more likely to support viable projects.

These preliminary results add weight to the argument for building a fiber optic line through these towns and connecting them to Santa Cruz.

The top three communities by county and regionally are…

Monterey County: 1. Greenfield, 2. King City, 3. Gonzales.

San Benito County: 1. Aromas & surrounding area, 2. Airport/Northeast area, 3. Cienega Road area.

Santa Cruz County: 1. Pleasure Point and Twin Lakes (adjacent communities were combined), 2. Soquel, 3. Brookdale.

Regional wildcards – highest ranking communities not in a county’s top 3: 1. Soledad, 2. Castroville, 3. Chualar.

The six Salinas Valley towns that top the Monterey County and regional rankings are home to 71,000 people, 60,000 of whom live in areas that are CASF-eligible, or at least arguably so. That’s a big percentage of the total population, which adds to the economic and social impact of projects. They are packed tightly together – there are 7,600 people per square mile in Greenfield, for example. That’s a plus for broadband planning, at least in the narrow sense that the shorter the distance between homes, the less it generally costs to build infrastructure.

But it also points to poverty. Median income levels are low – ranging from $44,000 per household in Soledad to $66,000 in Chualar (and surrounding area, which brings the average up). Public service agencies organisations are potential customers, though with 70 potential locations.

The assessment is not finished yet. There’s an ongoing workshop on where anyone – local or not – can talk about ideas for measuring the impact of broadband development and crunching the numbers. Maps and spreadsheets with all the data and formulae are there to be downloaded. Come and join us.