Eshoo Leads 14 California Democrats in Applauding Newsom’s Proposal to Invest in Internet Infrastructure

June 11, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) led a letter signed by 14 California House Democrats expressing support for Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposal to invest $7 billion of federal funds and state surplus funds in broadband infrastructure.

“We write to express our strong support of your proposal to invest $7 billion of state surplus funds and federal funds allocated to California in broadband infrastructure,” wrote the Representatives. “High-speed internet connectivity is essential for every Californian, regardless of geography, ethnicity, race, gender, or economic background. It’s how Californians learn and do homework, earn a living via telework, receive healthcare from medical professionals, apply for government programs, communicate with government officials, and receive emergency information during disasters.”

“The importance of connectivity has only become starker during the pandemic. As your proposal states, only 52 percent of Californians are using broadband at the modern benchmark speed of 100 Mbps. This digital divide impacts Californians in urban, suburban, rural, and Tribal parts of our state, and it is unacceptable,” the lawmakers continued.

In March 2021, Eshoo reintroduced the Community Broadband Act, legislation that will empower local communities in every state to ensure their residents have broadband access by removing roadblocks for public-private partnerships and locally-owned broadband systems. In May 2021, Eshoo also led a bicameral letter signed by nine members of Congress urging the U.S. Treasury Department to allow more flexible use of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to be used by state and municipalities for broadband.

A copy of the letter can be found HERE and the text of the letter is below:

Dear Governor Newsom,

We write to express our strong support of your proposal to invest $7 billion of state surplus funds and federal funds allocated to California in broadband infrastructure.

High-speed internet connectivity is essential for every Californian, regardless of geography, ethnicity, race, gender, or economic background. It’s how Californians learn and do homework, earn a living via telework, receive healthcare from medical professionals, apply for government programs, communicate with government officials, and receive emergency information during disasters. The importance of connectivity has only become starker during the pandemic. As your proposal states, only 52 percent of Californians are using broadband at the modern benchmark speed of 100 Mbps. This digital divide impacts Californians in urban, suburban, rural, and Tribal parts of our state, and it is unacceptable.

We strongly believe that closing the digital divide will require a partnership across all levels of government. The federal government has and will continue to invest in broadband infrastructure and enact policies to enable deployment. Local and Tribal governments around the state are enacting policies to serve all residents, including by deploying their own networks. These community networks exist all over our state but need support to continue growing. Across the country, over 900 municipalities, Tribes, utility co-ops, public-private partnerships, and nonprofits have deployed community networks. Research by New America’s Open Technology Institute shows that community broadband produces higher quality service at lower costs.

We’re pleased by your proposal to buildout a statewide middle-mile network and to financially support community networks administered by municipalities, Tribes, and nonprofits. The statewide middle-mile will enable expanded broadband access by reducing upfront costs for public and private providers to reach Californians who lack access today. Financial support for community networks will ensure communities can build their own networks when other options aren’t available.

We support this bold investment and stand ready to assist your efforts to ensure all Californians have access to high speed internet.

###