Access to high-speed broadband is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Yet too many Californians are trapped on the wrong side of the digital divide. To remain a leader in high-tech innovation, California must do better. Public oversight and intervention is needed to ensure universal and affordable access to high-speed communications services. Policymakers must hold network carriers accountable to meet deployment benchmarks to ensure that essential services like high-speed broadband are provided in an affordable and equitable way.
Therefore, our recommendations are:
- Policymakers and community leaders should call on AT&T to accelerate investment in its wireline broadband network in California, expanding deployment of its all-fiber network to more communities on an equitable basis, and ensuring that everyone in its wireline footprint has access to a high-speed broadband connection.
- Policymakers and community leaders should call on AT&T to make available to the public its fiber deployment plans: where it plans to deploy fiber, the timeline for the deployment, the number of households that will be served by fiber, internal measures to ensure equitable access to diverse, low-income communities, and network investment plans in rural and other areas.
- The California legislature should reassert public authority over broadband network deployment by repealing SB1161, which places some limits on such public oversight, and should adopt legislation that establishes enforceable fiber deployment benchmarks that apply to all providers.
- The California Public Utilities Commission should convene public hearings in 2017 across the state on the availability of high-speed broadband in order to inform its 2018 report on the state of broadband in California. It should also continue to require broadband carriers to provide accurate information on broadband deployment by speed, technology, and customer types at a granular Census Block level and audit such data for accuracy; Lastly, it should publish and make available to the public statutorilymandated reports in a timely manner.