Much of the Eastern Sierras region between Carson City, Nevada and Barstow, California is dependent on decades-old telephone infrastructure and has limited, insufficient broadband middle mile capabilities, leaving wide swaths of the Central Valley and eastern California unserved. The California Broadband Cooperative’s Digital 395 Middle Mile project proposes to build a new 553-mile, 10 Gbps middle-mile fiber network that would mainly follow U.S. Route 395 between southern and northern California. In addition to 36 municipalities, the project’s proposed service area encompasses six Indian reservations and two military bases. More than 230 community anchor institutions would be directly connected at speeds of 10 Mbps, with 2.5 Gbps and higher-capacity fiber-based services offered to the region’s last mile providers to expand or enhance service to households and businesses.
In the six regions of California targeted in this project by the California Emerging Technology Fund, high unemployment coupled with lagging residential broadband use create the need for broadband tools to help people develop information technology (IT) skills, digital literacy, and improve job placement. The project proposes to place unemployed residents in IT-industry jobs by providing outreach, training, and services to at-risk youth, English as a Second Language individuals, public housing residents, the homeless, and people with disabilities.
Qualified low-income persons will be able to earn laptop and desktop computers by graduating from a broadband training curriculum designed to create community broadband adoption ambassadors. To measure adoption and workforce development outcomes, CETF will utilize its own web-based standardized assessment tools to track the progress of all partners and participants, allowing for robust data collection and rapid performance monitoring and evaluation.
The Broadband Awareness and Adoption project of the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) proposes to increase adoption of broadband in vulnerable and low-income communities in Los Angeles, the Central Valley, Orange County, San Diego, and the Inland Empire. CETF has identified key populations with low broadband adoption rates and developed partnerships with organizations uniquely qualified to reach out to each of these populations. Working with these partners, CETF plans to coordinate a targeted media campaign, bolstered by outreach from trusted ambassadors and grassroots mobilization, to reach 5 million multi-lingual residents. CETF intends to provide digital literacy training for more than 678,000 low-income individuals, including more than 300,000 youth. The project expects to increase household adoption of broadband in these high-priority, low-income communities by more than 133,000 households.
State Broadband Capacity Building:
This funding will support new staff who will work to execute recommendations of the California Broadband Task Force through the new California Broadband Council, a state-led body to be comprised of the state executive and legislative branches, and the California Emerging Technology Fund. Council staff will coordinate the activities of disparate state agencies, provide outreach to local governments, and implement policies and programs to promote broadband deployment, usage, and application use throughout California.
The project will collect, display and update location and service information of computer refurbishment centers across the state. In addition, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will research additional broadband information, such as the location of training centers, and BTOP and BIP-funded projects, indicating the type of project, e.g., sustainable adoption, computer center, middle mile, last mile.
Programs to Improve Computer Ownership and Internet Use:
In partnership with California State University-Chico, the CPUC will support outreach and technical support to develop and implement a broadband adoption strategy specifically targeting Native American tribes, Rancherias and communities in California. This support will provide ongoing technical assistance and consultation to address planning and development issues related to the implementation of Internet service within tribal communities.
Wireless Application Development:
This funding will support the California Wireless Broadband Performance and Coverage Tracking Study. The CPUC will conduct an integrated, independent, comprehensive, open-source mobile wireless network testing and reporting system that covers all mobile wireless networks in the state and fairly reports performance and coverage as an honest broker. The open-source nature of this project can serve as a model for other governments to replicate.
Data Collection, Integration, and Validation:
This project was originally funded for broadband planning activities and two years of data collection. In September of 2010, this project was amended to extend data collection activities for an additional three years and to identify and implement best practices.
According to a June 2009 report by the Public Policy Institute of California, Internet and broadband use has increased in all regions of California except for the Central Valley, where 49 percent of households cannot access high-speed service. Current broadband infrastructure in the region is largely inadequate to meet the needs of local community anchor institutions. In response to this situation, Central Valley Independent Network (CVIN), along with its project partner, Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), intends to deploy a 1,371-mile fiber backbone network through 18 Central Valley counties. The network, consisting of 720 newly constructed miles of fiber and the leasing of 164 miles of dark fiber, will provide Internet backbone service to Amador, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Fresno, Kings, Kern, Mariposa, Merced, Madera, Nevada, Placer, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tuolumne, Tulare, and Yuba counties. In addition, the project will construct 12 new wireless nodes in order to deploy WiMax last-mile service to the rural portions of Fresno, Tulare, Kings, and Kern Counties.
According to a 2009 study conducted by the City and County of San Francisco, only 42 percent of seniors in the city currently subscribe to broadband, and only 61 percent of those who define themselves as African American or Latino do so. Both figures are much lower than the citywide rate of 82 percent. The City’s Departments of Technology; Aging & Adult Services; and Children, Youth & Families, along with several other key partners in the nonprofit, educational, and for-profit sectors, propose to provide broadband-oriented training to seniors, adults in residential treatment, low-income and ESL youth, and other economically and socially vulnerable groups. The project intends to include an online support group for seniors via partner TYZE.com and collaborate with digital media nonprofit groups to provide training in digital media and dissemination of local user-generated digital content in ways that encourage broadband adoption.
The Los Angeles Computer Access Network project proposes to expand and upgrade 188 public computer centers at libraries, workforce centers, parks, and youth and family centers in low-income and non-English- speaking communities in the city of Los Angeles. The city expects to purchase 2,741 new computers, including 2,609 workstations and 132 laptops. The majority of the 188 proposed centers will be located in or within three miles of federal and state designated “Enterprise Zones.”
Broadband’s ability to expand educational and employment opportunities is especially meaningful for Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing, a community that faces unique challenges in education and that suffers from a rate of unemployment much higher than the national average. Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc. (CSD) intends to expand broadband adoption among people who are deaf and hard of hearing and provide them with online tools to more fully participate in the digital economy. The project proposes to employ a combination of discounted broadband service and specialized computers, technology training from an online state-of-the art support center customized to the community’s needs, public access to videophones at anchor institutions from coast to coast, and a nationwide outreach initiative. Thousands will gain online access to all the Internet has to offer, including sign language interpreters, captioned video services, and other content and functionalities designed especially to advance their educational, employment, and healthcare interests.
Computers for Youth Foundation, Inc. (Computers for Youth) and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) plan to expand a successful pilot program to increase broadband technology awareness and usage among an estimated 34,000 low-income individuals and 15,000 households. The project plans to target sixth- grade students and their families to help students succeed academically and increase family involvement in children’s education through computer and Internet tools. Students and their families will participate in four-hour weekend workshops that provide computer training in English and Spanish, after which they will receive a refurbished computer with educational software. Nearly 8,000 households are anticipated to become new broadband subscribers as a result of this project.
The AccessAmerica Video Remote Interpreting project plans to install 81 new videoconferencing stations, and enhance the user experience at 19 existing stations that serve individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing in Northwest Louisiana, and sites in Alabama, California, and Texas. The project intends to use broadband and videoconference technology to provide on-demand, cost-effective sign language interpretation at a total of 100 community partner sites, including community anchor institutions such as hospitals, courts, public safety agencies, shelters, schools, and libraries. Each state-of-the-art video conferencing unit is expected to connect to trained American Sign Language interpreters working at a central call center or otherwise remotely.
The Foundation for California Community Colleges, in partnership with community colleges and other learning centers across an 18-county region in the Central Valley, plans to provide outreach, training, and learning support to increase digital literacy skills and broadband adoption, especially among low-income Hispanic residents in the region.
The project plans to distribute laptops to roughly 5,800 socioeconomically disadvantaged students currently enrolled in the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program at local community colleges. The equipment will help encourage and enable broadband adoption among students and their families, many of whom have not previously seen the need or had the resources to acquire computers, learn computer skills, or connect to the Internet. The project intends to track both the increase in library and public computer center use as a result of the program as well as household subscribership figures for MESA students.
The Transforming Neighborhood Network Centers for Job Creation and Broadband Access project plans to expand and enhance the services of five public computer centers located in public housing developments in San Bernardino County, California. Currently, the computer centers are open only to public housing residents and Section 8 recipients, have extremely limited hours, and receive slow Internet service. With this grant, the centers expect to add 25 new computer workstations (an increase of 50 percent), open to the general public, increase broadband speeds at each center, and extend operating hours to 60 hours per week. In addition, the project will provide three types of training for public housing residents, low income populations, children, and the general public: basic computer literacy workshops, 9-week long workforce skillbuilding courses, and in-depth online occupational training.
The Expanding Broadband Access Across California project proposes to build 11 new access points on Level 3’s existing broadband network to enable last mile providers to offer affordable high-speed services to underserved areas. The additional points of interconnection will offer broadband speeds between 50 Mbps and 10 Gbps on an open and nondiscriminatory basis to last mile Internet service providers. Similar to on-ramps to the interstate highway system, these points of interconnection will enable last mile providers to transport data to the Internet backbone and provide affordable service to anchor institutions, homes, and businesses. The project could enhance broadband capabilities for as many as 240,000 households, 9,900 businesses, and 240 anchor institutions, including schools, government agencies, and healthcare providers.
With over 80 public safety agencies and approximately 34,000 first-responders, and encompassing a sprawling terrain of over 4,060 square miles that approximately 10 million people call home, the Los Angeles region seeks a modern interoperable public safety broadband network that allows multiple agencies to respond to the widest possible variety of emergencies. The Los Angeles Regional Interoperable Communications System Authority (LA-RICS) is proposing to deploy a 700 MHz public safety mobile broadband network across all of Los Angeles County, featuring almost 300 wireless 700 MHz public safety broadband sites using new and existing infrastructure, fixed microwave backhaul rings , and 100-miles of high-capacity fiber backboneThe network would enable computer-aided dispatch, rapid law-enforcement queries, real-time video streaming, medical telemetry and patient tracking, geographic information systems services for first responders, and many other broadband-specific applications.
The Mission Economic Development Agency, in collaboration with the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders and a national network of Latino-serving economic development organizations, plans to create 12 new public computer centers and expand five existing ones in 13 communities throughout the United States. Each center expects to operate on the project’s centrally managed network and provide computer training and adult education to a low broadband adoption, high unemployment target population through a standardized English-Spanish training curriculum. The project expects to add a total of 263 new workstations and replace 37 existing workstations, enabling the centers to serve an additional 2,500 users per week and train an estimated 3,000 users per year. Broadband capabilities at each center will be increased to speeds of 1.5 Mbps. Public computer centers funded through this grant will be located in Phoenix, AZ; Canoga Park, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, CA; Del Norte, CO; Blackfoot, ID; Wheaton, MD; Minneapolis, MN; Kansas City, MO; Anthony, NM; Philadelphia, PA; and San Antonio and Laredo, TX.
The Monterey County Office of Education, along with a coalition of local community institutions in California, is proposing to establish a series of new and enhanced public computer centers across the county that will serve economically vulnerable populations, increase public computer access, and provide training in digital media production. According to Census Bureau data, only about 70 percent of adults in the Salinas River Valley region have a high school degree or its equivalent, and over half of the population of Monterey County speak a language other than English at home. These factors create a unique need for specialized economic development efforts, which can be greatly enhanced by improved access to and awareness of the benefits of broadband. To this end, the project proposes expanding the Office of Education’s Career Technology Education Center in Salinas, which provides high school students with 360 hours of training to receive a certificate in digital media production skills and the opportunity to obtain vocational placement or continue their training at Hartnell College. The project would also extend training to parents and other adult learners through the Center and via the mobile digital media classroom that would travel throughout the region. Hartnell College also plans to expand its access and training programs to its Alisal and King City satellite campuses.
This public-private partnership led by Motorola, Inc. aims to deploy a 700 MHz interoperable wireless public safety broadband network and a public access wireless broadband network in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Examples of advanced public safety applications to be enabled by the network include real-time mobile video for field officers; geolocation information about damage, dangers, hazardous materials, road conditions, and personnel and vehicle location; immediate Amber Alert file transfers; and virtual command centers to support emergency evacuations. The Bay Area Regional Interoperability Communications System (BayRICS) will manage quality-of-service, access, interoperability, policy, and system management issues for the public safety network.
The 21st Century Information and Support Ecosystem project proposes to implement a comprehensive program of computer training, wireless Internet access, broadband awareness marketing, and online content and applications to residents of 159 affordable and public housing developments and low-income communities in 50 cities and towns across 31 states and the District of Columbia. The project plans to implement four principal programs: training 2,500 youth to become “Digital Connectors” who will then provide digital literacy training to others in their communities; deploying localized broadband networks in public housing developments; developing online content and applications aimed at low-income, low-literacy audiences.
Many of the community anchor institutions in the rural Sierra region of northeastern California currently lack
adequate access to the bandwidth necessary to support e-healthcare, advanced learning opportunities, and
economic development. The Plumas Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative plans to meet the broadband needs of
these institutions by constructing 169 miles of new fiber for a middle mile network to deliverbroadband speeds
between 45 Mbps and 10 Gbps to anchor institutions and local Internet service providers. Among the 18
community anchor institutions currently expected to connect to the Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications Middle
Mile Fiber Project’s network are seven government facilities, two community colleges, and two healthcare
providers including the Plumas District Hospital, High Desert Prison, and Feather River College.
Partnering with adult literacy and basic education organizations with long histories in their respective states, Portland State University proposes to lead the Learner Web Partnership project to increase broadband use among low-income, minorities, and other vulnerable populations by teaching digital literacy along with English literacy, educating participants to become informed consumers, and providing access to career paths in the digital economy. Project partners will deploy the existing Learner Web software, which has been cited by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education as a noteworthy adult education program, for more than 20,000 residents. Instructional materials will address topics including use of broadband for job searches, education and health information, and smart consumer practices. The project proposes a distinctive focus on the needs of adult learners using an approach that combines self-paced learning with live tutorial support.
As part of a longstanding project to connect essential community anchor institutions across the country, and facilitate closer collaboration and long-term benefits for education, research, healthcare, public safety, and government services, the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID) proposes a comprehensive 50-state network benefitting approximately 121,000 community anchors. The project proposes a large-scale, public-private partnership to interconnect more than 30 existing research and education networks, creating a dedicated 100-200 Gbps nationwide fiber backbone with 3.2 terabits per second (TBps) total capacity that would enable advanced networking features such as IPv6 and video multicasting. The project plans to connect community anchors across all disciplines into virtual communities with shared goals and objectives, including colleges, universities, libraries, major veterans and other health care facilities, and public safety entities, with additional benefits to tribes, vulnerable populations, and government entities.
The University of California, Davis, a leading research university with one of the nation’s top medical training centers, is proposing a program to increase institutional use of the California Telehealth Network (CTN), a broadband network constructed with funding from the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Health Care Pilot Program. The project proposes to increase institutional adoption of broadband services through: (1) promoting CTN as the optimal solution for technical training and the transition to long-term sustainable adoption; (2) training healthcare providers, community college instructors, public safety workers, and local librarians; and (3) creating “full service” model communities to successfully demonstrate broadband-enabled telehealth.
Economically vulnerable Spanish-speaking households in the greater Los Angeles region of California often lack reliable, affordable access to broadband services, which reduces opportunities for after-school assistance and adult education. The Youth Policy Institute, in partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District and other L.A.-area community anchor institutions, proposes to establish 78 new public computer centers and renovate two others in the region, including at 66 K-12 public schools. The project will provide broadband and computer access and job training services to low-income residents in the targeted area, with a specific focus on predominantly Hispanic communities, leveraging YPI’s existing ParentSmart and Family Technology projects. YPI also proposes to provide distance learning services to young adults through partnerships with local community colleges and offer onsite tutors—primarily AmeriCorps volunteers—to help students with homework and provide additional online training.
ZeroDivide’s Generation ZD Digital Literacy Program proposes a major regional training and broadband access program for low-income youth in communities across several Western states that will encourage the development of a new generation of broadband users. The project plans to enhance broadband services and outreach in Humboldt and San Benito counties and San Juan Bautista, California; Salt Lake City, Utah; Maui County, Hawaii; King, Snohomish, Skagit Island and Pierce counties, Washington; Multnomah and Washington counties and Portland, Oregon; and Santa Fe, New Mexico. It will also provide sustainable skills training, skill-sharing, and workforce development programs for the North Coast region of California, including for youth from the Native American Table Bluff Wiyot Tribe, Karuk Tribe, and Hoopa Valley Tribe.
According to the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association, baseline broadband adoption among the 15 Native American tribes in rural San Diego County is only 17 percent compared to the national average of 66 percent. ZeroDivide’s Tribal Digital Village (TDV) project aims to raise that number to 70 percent by providing 8,900 tribal residents and 2,000 residents living in adjacent communities with broadband training, awareness, and adoption programs. This project will complement the Tribal Digital Village Network, which currently serves tribal community anchor institutions, plans to expand its services to deploy broadband to 2,000 tribal homes on 15 of the 19 tribal communities in San Diego County.