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State Plans Broadband Outreach for Vendors, Government

Two upcoming events hosted by the state technology department are aimed at informing vendors and local governments about procurement and mapping availabilities.

A row of broadband ports with cables plugged into them.
Work continues on the middle-mile and last-mile aspects of California’s planned statewide broadband network, and more vendor outreach is on the way.

In its latest emailed Broadband Update, the California Department of Technology (CDT) highlighted state- and federal-level developments in the ongoing effort to deploy high-speed Internet statewide. These follow months of procurements, including a request for qualifications that closes in mid-December, and two events this month to spotlight “contract opportunities on the Middle-Mile Broadband Network.” Among the takeaways:

  • CDT will hold a Request for Innovative Ideas (RFI2) Procurement Outreach Webinar at 9:30 a.m. Thursday to discuss the procurement, which “seeks innovative and sustainable solutions for joint builds, conduit and fiber leases, and co-location to address the problem statement outlined in the solicitation.” Released Oct. 11, it closes Friday. The state’s proposed Middle-Mile Broadband Initiative, CDT notes, is about 10,000 route miles. Proposals are being sought, generally, “to ensure redundancy so that a fiber cut or other harmful network event on these linear spurs will not take down Internet service” to communities. Find solicitation details here and register here.
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which has released a “pre-production draft map of broadband availability,” per CDT, is accepting challenges from “state, territory, and local governments, service providers, and other entities” by Jan. 13. The final version of the map will be used to allocate Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program funding by June 30. Here’s the press release and draft map. The FCC will host a Broadband Data Collection Bulk Fixed Challenge Technical Assistance Workshop at 1 p.m. Wednesday to aid “entities in preparing to file bulk challenges to fixed broadband availability data presented in the new National Broadband Map.” Find registration information here. In an effort to support stakeholders in California interested in the broadband mapping challenge process, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and CDT will host an informational webinar at 2:30 p.m. Friday. Find registration information here.
  • The CPUC is accepting applications for broadband grants for local agency technical assistance, CDT said in its email. Conducted via state Senate Bill 156, the commission’s grant program enables “last-mile broadband infrastructure planning for counties, cities, sovereign tribal governments, community service districts, municipal utilities districts, school districts, electrical cooperatives, and Joint Powers Authorities.” Signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in July 2021, SB 156 provided $3.25 billion for building middle-mile infrastructure and $2 billion for last-mile infrastructure — $1 billion each for rural and urban communities. Grant monies cover pre-construction deliverables like “environmental permits, engineering studies, and strategic plans.” The commission has received more than 82 applications since it began accepting them in August, and has approved 52 totaling $23.8 million, CDT said.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.