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Proposal Would Add New Contracting Requirements for Agencies, ISPs

Senate Bill 1179 would create new contracting requirements for state agencies and Internet service providers around affordable Internet service. Trade groups have voiced opposition to the proposal.

The California Capitol building in Sacramento.
New legislation could add contracting requirements for state agencies and their Internet service provider vendors.

Senate Bill 1179, which was introduced last month by Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, D-Dist. 26, would require the California Department of Technology (CDT), Department of General Services (DGS) and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to create a “net equality program.”

The legislation would also mandate that the state enter into procurement contracts only with Internet service providers that offer affordable Internet service. The bill defines affordable Internet as service that costs no more than $30 a month. A list of qualifying vendors would be published by CDT annually.

The bill has garnered some criticism from those in ISP circles, namely the California Broadband and Video Association (CalBroadband); CTIA, the trade association for the wireless communications industry; USTelecom – The Broadband Association; California Chamber of Commerce; and the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA).

In a letter to Sen. Bill Dodd, who chairs the Senate Governmental Organization Committee, the groups voiced their concerns about an end to federal subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, vague adoption metrics and the potential to harm competition.

“While we support the goal to ensure that all low-income Californians have access to affordable broadband service, this bill as drafted will not move us closer to that goal,” the letter states. “Rather, the bill would inappropriately complicate state procurement contracts rather than focus on the goal of securing more eligible participants into the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) program.”

Under the proposal, providers with fewer than 100,000 California subscribers would be exempt from these requirements, as would the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

Durazo’s office could not be reached for comment as of press time.
Eyragon is the Managing Editor for Industry Insider — California. He previously served as the Daily News Editor for Government Technology. He lives in Sacramento, Calif.