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State Tech Department Highlights Broadband Work

The department issued the latest in its series of updates on California’s progress toward building a statewide broadband network, which includes details on the administration of federal funding.

Newsom administration officials marked the start of construction Oct. 13 on the first section of a 10,000-mile broadband network to deliver high-speed Internet statewide. Among those taking part were California Department of Technology Director Liana Bailey-Crimmins, who is state chief information officer, second from left; and California Government Operations Agency Secretary Amy Tong, center.
California Department of Technology
Work on California’s statewide broadband network is underway in earnest, the state technology department said recently.

In the latest of its monthly broadband updates, released Thursday, the California Department of Technology summarized activity during October for vendors and the public sector. Among the takeaways:

  • Officials released a solicitation for “pricing of alternatives” via request for innovative ideas (RFI2) on Oct. 11. RFI2, of course, came out of one of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s earliest executive orders, Executive Order N-04-19, in January 2019. That order activated the flexible, iterative Innovation Procurement Sprint and enabled departments to use RFI2 to secure new technology solutions without traditional but sometimes slower RFPs. On Oct. 14, the state released job order contracts to build more than half the system, according to the update. Find Industry Insider — California’s coverage here, here and here.
  • State, CDT and Government Operations Agency (GovOPs) leaders joined their counterparts from the California State Transportation Agency and the Legislature Oct. 13 to kick-start construction of the middle-mile broadband network; the following week, GovOps Secretary Amy Tong and other state officials toured Healdsburg Democrat Jim Wood’s state Assembly district to consider “middle-mile opportunities,” per the October update. According to the California Department of Transportation, 77 percent of preconstruction is now “in process” across the state — an increase from 73 percent in September 2022.
  • CDT, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the Governor’s Office of Tribal Affairs held the inaugural Fall Broadband for All Summit and State Digital Equity Planning (SDEP) and Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Planning Kickoff on Oct. 24, convening nearly 800 partners and stakeholders from around California broadband. The event included a panel discussion and progress report of Broadband for All and Equity Initiatives. Find the event recording as well as transcripts and slides on the Broadband for All Portal.
  • The CPUC administers the $2 billion Federal Funding Account to “grant funds to public and private entities” to construct last-mile infrastructure for residents without access to high-speed Internet. The commission, the update said, is preparing to publish “priority areas for funding, which are a subset of the eligible unserved areas.” The suggested funding areas and digital equity information will be displayed on a “public map, and potential applicants can register to access more detailed information.” Find additional resources, including a fact sheet, a dashboard, the recording of a webinar, as well as presentations and reports here.
  • The state’s Middle-Mile Advisory Committee discussed progress on the Middle-Mile Broadband Initiative (MMBI) at its October meeting. Find a recording of that meeting, plus presentation and transcripts on the MMBI website. The Middle-Mile Advisory Committee’s final meeting of 2022 will be Nov. 18.