Wednesday, January 16, 2008

California Broadband Task Force Seeks Action

California must construct next-generation broadband infrastructure in order to position itself as a global economic leader in a knowledge-based economy, according to a newly issued report from The California Broadband Task Force (CBTF), which was commissioned by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in November 2006 to recommend means to remove barriers to broadband access, identify opportunities for increased broadband adoption, and enable the creation and deployment of new advanced communication technologies."

The Task Force determined that California is better positioned than most states on broadband availability and adoption,
yet the state lags behind key foreign competitors. For instance, the average advertised download speed available
in Japan is almost 95 Mbps, while the average in the United States is just under 9 Mbps. In California, available broadband speeds differ considerably be region. Ninety-five percent of Los Angeles and Orange County residents can subscribe to speeds of 10 Mbps or higher, while only 6 percent of Bay Area households are able to do so.

Other findings include:

  • 96% of California residences have access to broadband.

  • 1.4 million mostly rural Californians lack broadband access at any speed.

  • Barely more than half of Californians have adopted broadband at home.

  • Only half of Californians have access to broadband at speeds greater than 10 Mbps, (including both upstream and downstream speeds).

  • Broadband infrastructure is deployed unevenly throughout the state, from state-of--the-art to nonexistent.

The CBTF recommends seven key actions:

1. Build out high speed broadband infrastructure to all Californians -- advancing new incentives for deployment and improving existing programs will create a world-class broadband infrastructure in California.

2. Develop model permitting standards and encourage collaboration among providers -- developing a public-private partnership between local governments and broadband providers to endorse permitting standards will improve the speed with which broadband is deployed.

3. Increase the use and adoption of broadband and computer technology -- expanding the opportunities for Californians to access, use, and learn broadband, at home and in the community, will provide the foundation for a digitally literate society that is able to fully benefit from broadband technology.

4. Engage and reward broadband innovation and research -- promoting innovative uses of broadband technology and encouraging wider e-government use will result in quality-of-life improvements, while increasing demand for a robust broadband infrastructure.

5. Create a statewide e-health network -- implementing a sustainable statewide e-health network will improve quality of care across the state and simultaneously increase demand for broadband services.

6. Leverage educational opportunities to increase broadband use -- ensuring high-capacity broadband connections coupled with a robust technology support system, relevant curriculum, literacy standards, and off-campus educational partnerships will provide California's students with the skills they need to compete in a 21st century economy.

7. Continue state-level and statewide leadership -- continuing the California Broadband Initiative and supporting the creation of Community Broadband Leadership Councils will strengthen the statewide leadership necessary to drive broadband access and adoption across

The 84-page report is posted online.

See also