2. Introduction and Vision for Digital Equity

On this page 

This Statewide Digital Equity Plan establishes California’s vision, digital equity goals, and priorities. It presents a needs assessment that will inform how the State allocates its Digital Equity Capacity Grant from NTIA and establishes baseline data that the State will use to measure its progress. This Plan is structured to meet the requirements of a Digital Equity Planning Grant from NTIA. 

This Plan aligns with the Broadband for All program, which reflects Governor Gavin Newsom’s significant commitment to close the digital divide in California. This is exemplified in the Broadband for All Action Plan, prepared in response to Executive Order N-73-20, the once-in-a-lifetime investments authorized under Senate Bill 156 (Chapter 112, Statutes of 2021), which committed $6 billion toward the development of a statewide open-access middle-mile network and complementary last-mile infrastructure and adoption grants programs. It also includes the statewide Get Connected CA! Mobilization led by CBC members to increase enrollment in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).  

2.1 Vision 

Under the banner of Broadband for All—California’s commitment to closing the digital divide—the state seeks to realize the following vision by the end of 2028: 

A California in which all residents have access to high-performance broadband, affordable service and devices, and the training and support necessary to enable digital inclusion for economic and other social benefits. 

2.2 Alignment with Existing Efforts to Improve Outcomes 

Realizing this vision will not only ensure equitable access to technology but also help achieve other statewide policy outcomes, including: 

  • Improve educational attainment and achievement, 
  • Increase access to healthcare and healthcare services, 
  • Enable digital literacy and inclusion, 
  • Empower workforce and economic development, 
  • Foster greater access to essential services, accessibility, and civic engagement, and 
  • Strengthen tribal collaboration and partnerships. 

Recognizing the digital equity imperative in each of these priority outcome areas was foundational to CDT’s digital equity planning process, this Plan complements existing statewide policy priorities and goals in each area. Examples of these priorities include the following: 


Objectives in this Plan (see Section 2.5) will positively affect educational outcomes in the state. Key collaborators in this effort include the California Department of Education (CDE), the University of California (UC), California State University (CSU), California Community Colleges (CCC), County Offices of Education, and local school districts.  

Transforming Schools: Superintendent’s Initiatives details the priorities and initiatives of CDE to transform K-12 public schools by integrating new programs and strategies for students, families, educators, and local education agencies.[38]  One of these initiatives is “Closing the Digital Divide” which “focuses on identifying needed resources and partnerships to support distance learning in California schools and equip all California schools with computing devices and connectivity.”[39]  During the COVID-19 pandemic, CDE facilitated the development of California Educators Together, a platform supporting a community of practice which encourages the sharing of digital assets and delivering online coursework.[40]  Many of the objectives set forth in this Plan, such as the goal of increasing connectivity and device ownership and encouraging partnerships across State agencies, directly support this initiative of CDE. 

Higher education systems in California are also working to promote digital equity as a central tenet of their mission. As noted in a report by the CITRIS Policy Lab, UC is well suited to advance digital equity “because of its extensive geographic footprint, vast infrastructure, technical capacity, and deep ties to surrounding communities.”[41]   

CSU’s mission is to advance and extend knowledge, learning, and culture, especially in California. One key program supporting digital equity is California State University Connectivity Contributing to Equity and Student Success (CSUCCESS). CSUCCESS addresses the technology equity gap and enhances student achievement by providing industry-leading technology to the CSU community.[42]  The program includes high-quality personal computing devices, broadband connectivity, digital literacy, and shared best practices across the CSU for technology-focused student support.[43]  CSU also provides its students with Eduroam Wi-Fi connectivity, which allows students to access the internet from other participating institutions of higher education.[44]

The California Community College Vision 2030 aims to increase educational attainment among CCC’s existing 1.9 million students but also prioritizes postsecondary attainment for the 6.8 million Californians between the ages of 25 and 54 who have a high school diploma but no postsecondary credential.[45]  While all three ‘Leading with Equity’ goals in Vision 2030 are critical to student success, the goals of “Equity in Support” align with the work of this Plan, by making it easier to receive digital equity supports and services. CCC also hosts Calbright College, a free, online training program for non-traditional learners in areas such as IT Support and Cybersecurity. This program is a “competency-based model so leaners move through the coursework at their own pace and as they feel comfortable with the material.”[46]  

This Plan advances the goals of these educational initiatives by eliminating financial and/or administrative burdens by working collaboratively with State agencies and other entities. 


The California Health and Human Services (CHHS) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) are two entities addressing barriers to health and digital equity. CHHS’s mission “is to work together with counties, cities, and communities, as well as public, private, faith, and educational partners to make California a healthy, vibrant, inclusive place to live, play, work, and learn.”[47] One of the policy priorities outlined in CHHS’s Guiding Principles and Strategic Priorities is to build a healthy California for all, aiming to “ensure all Californians have meaningful and timely access to care by enhancing technological infrastructure…”[48]

CDPH envisions a California where every resident is part of a strong and thriving community.[49] CDPH, in partnership with the California Department of Social Services, commissioned “Community Strategies to Address California’s Digital Divide and Its Impact on Children and Families,” which identified many of the same barriers and offers many of the same solutions offered in this Plan.[50] By implementing the key activities suggested in this Plan (see Section 5.1), the State can make progress on its health outcomes as well. 

Digital Literacy and Inclusion 

Many state agencies and nonprofits are engaged in providing digital literacy and inclusion programming, and the implementation of this Plan supported by capacity grants will further strengthen their work. The California State Library, through its Connected California program, connects residents with Digital Navigators to assist with finding low-cost internet options, obtaining a device, and learning digital literacy skills.[51] The California Department of Aging is host to the Access to Technology program which provides grants to Counties to support older adults and individuals with disabilities in acquiring devices and digital skills.[52]  

There are multiple statewide, national, and local nonprofit entities doing excellent work in the California digital inclusion space, including the California Emerging Technology Fund, EveryoneOn, Community Tech Network, San Diego Futures Foundation, American GI Forum, #OaklandUndivided and many others. 

This Plan will support agencies and organizations like these to seek funding to scale their efforts through Digital Equity Capacity or Competitive Grants. 

Workforce and Economic Development 

Digital equity is foundational to equitable economic and workforce development, and the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA), the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), and the Office of Planning and Research’s Community Economic Resilience Fund (CERF) have all been active partners with CDT in advancing digital equity in the state.  

LWDA works to ensure safe and fair workplaces, deliver critical worker benefits, and promote good jobs for all.[53] Strategies identified in this Plan will support LWDA’s goals and programs by educating residents and promoting access to good jobs in the broadband industry. 

GO-Biz is California’s leader in job growth, economic development, and business assistance efforts.[54] Increased access to high-speed reliable broadband service in all jurisdictions establishes a fair and level playing field in the attraction of new businesses and increases to job access and opportunity. Many of GO-Biz’s policy priorities will benefit from ensuring universal broadband adoption and the development of digital skills to strengthen the state’s workforce – both of which are implementation strategies offered in this Plan. 

The CERF Fund promotes “a sustainable and equitable recovery from the economic distress of COVID-19 by supporting new plans and strategies to diversify local economies and develop sustainable industries that create high-quality, broadly accessible jobs for all Californians.”[55] COVID-19 showed us just how significant the digital divide was in California, and key activities (see Section 5.1) in this Plan will help build a highly skilled workforce. 

Essential Services, Accessibility and Civic Engagement 

CDT, Office of Data and Innovation (ODI), the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), and the California Government Operations Agency (GovOps) are working in concert to promote the online accessibility and inclusivity of public resources and services, which are crucial components to improving outcomes in delivering essential services. 

At the forefront of this work is CDT, which aims “to advance California’s technology and ensure secure, equitable, and reliable solutions through effective policy and oversight, statewide strategies, and innovative services.”[56] CDT is tasked with the State’s broadband and digital equity planning.[57]

GovOps leads implementation of strategic initiatives focused on accelerating innovation in state operations.[58] Their goals are to develop the State workforce, accelerate innovation, sustain business transformation, and advance equity, and are supported by implementation strategies and key activities identified in this Plan.[59] The work of GovOps is critical to achieving the objectives outlined for the delivery of essential services. 

Tribal Collaboration 

Executive Order B-10-11 established a policy that states “every state agency and department subject to executive control is to encourage communication and consultation with California Native American tribes.”[60] CDT and CPUC, as part of the digital equity and BEAD planning process, endeavored to thoughtfully and meaningfully engage with tribal leaders, tribal governments, and tribal entities to ensure that the concerns of tribes were heard and to incorporate strategies that address barriers to digital equity that are unique to tribes and tribal lands.  

There are activities included in this Plan that will positively benefit tribal communities, including support for obtaining federal infrastructure funding, promotion of the ACP benefit for those living on tribal lands, and funding for organizations to hire and train digital navigators that understand the needs of specific tribal communities. These activities, when combined with ongoing partnership and collaboration, will help bridge the digital divide for tribal communities.  

2.3 Alignment with Existing Statewide Initiatives 

California has long been committed to closing the digital divide and is a national leader in advancing digital equity. The State’s existing efforts include the following:  

The California Broadband Council (CBC) 

The CBC was established in 2010 by SB 1462 (Chapter 338, Statutes of 2010) to promote broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas of the state (as defined by the CPUC) and broadband adoption. CDT chairs the CBC, which is staffed by the Office of Broadband and Digital Literacy (OBDL), which manages the statewide ecosystem of individuals and organizations dedicated to closing the digital divide. See Appendix A for a complete list of CBC member organizations.  

California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) Programs 

CPUC administers CASF, which consists of six programs that support broadband deployment, adoption, and technical assistance. Since its inception in 2008, $348 million has been awarded to support 108 projects, with the potential to benefit 327,957 households across 43 counties.[61] CASF programs are funded via surcharges collected by telecommunications providers; the programs are ongoing and may collect applications on a rolling basis.[62]  

Executive Order N-73-20 

In August 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-73-20 to improve digital connectivity across the state. The Executive Order directed State agencies to undertake specific actions to improve digital equity, and it directed the CBC to develop a statewide Broadband Action Plan by December 31, 2020. The CBC released its Broadband for All Action Plan three months later with input from 700 entities. 

Broadband for All Action Plan 

The Broadband for All Action Plan acknowledges that broadband access, affordability, and adoption are critical components of digital equity. The State Digital Equity Plan aligns with and builds upon foundational digital equity efforts established in the Broadband for All Action Plan. Both Plans focus on achieving three long-term goals: 

Goal 1

All Californians have high-performance broadband available at home, schools, libraries, and businesses.

Goal 2

All Californians have access to affordable broadband and necessary devices.

Goal 3

All Californians can access training and support to enable digital inclusion.

To achieve these goals, the California Broadband Council leverages the State’s full range of tools, including policies, programs, funding, partnerships, and collaborations with federal, municipal, and tribal governments. The Broadband for All Action Plan lays out key actions:[63]

  • Modernize broadband speed and performance standards 
  • Simplify processes and leverage existing assets and construction  
  • Set reliability standards 
  • Increase access to affordable broadband services and devices 
  • Promote affordable broadband services and devices 
  • Encourage broadband competition 
  • Strengthen partnerships and coordinate initiatives  
  • Improve broadband data and mapping transparency and usability 
  • Develop technical assistance and support 
  • Bolster partnerships 

The Action Plan assigned 24 action items to State entities. CDT and OBDL oversee the implementation of the Action Plan, working in close collaboration with State agencies to track the progress and report to the CBC. The Action Plan is reviewed and updated annually.  

Significant progress has been made on many of the Action Plan items as shown in the table below, and more details may be found on the Broadband for All Action Plan Tracker.[64] 

Item Description Lead Status Term
1 Develop Shared Broadband Standards CPUC Complete Short
2 Identification of State and Federal Funding GO-Biz Complete Short
3 Universal Service Programs CPUC In progress Long
4 Develop Dig Smart Policy DOT Complete Short
5 Improve Encroachment and Rights-of-Way Management DOT Complete Short
6 Enhance Permitting Processes at Levels CDT Complete Short
7 ID State Property for Broadband Deployment CDT/DGS Complete Long
8 Next-Generation 9-1-1 and Public Safety Infrastructure OES In progress Short
9 Network Resiliency and Reliability Standards CPUC In progress Short
10 Consumer Protection and Equitable Service CPUC In progress Long
11 Establish Broadband Service Affordability Standards CPUC Complete Short
12 Improve the California LifeLine Program CPUC In progress Long
13 Service for Publicly Subsidized Housing Units HCD Complete Long
14 Leverage State Contracting and Procurement Vehicles CDT/DGS Complete Long
15 Analyze Needs of Aging Populations CDA Complete Short
16 Promote and Track Affordable Service Programs CDT Complete Long
17 Guidance to Local and Tribal Governments CPUC In progress Long
18 Establish Digital Inclusion Stakeholder Network CDT Complete​ Long
19 California Interactive Broadband Map CPUC In progress Short
20 CPUC’s Broadband Cost Model CPUC Complete Short
21 Broadband for All Portal CDT Complete Short
22 Technical Assistance CPUC In progress Short
23 Interagency Broadband Planning Group GO-Biz Complete Long
24 State Entity Broadband Strategic Planning CDT Complete Long

Senate Bill 156 “Broadband for All Act” 

In July 2021, Governor Newsom signed historic broadband legislation into law. SB 156 (Chapter 112, Statutes of 2021) accelerates the State’s commitment to bridging the digital divide by increasing equitable, affordable access to high-speed internet service across California. The Broadband for All Act allocated a $6 billion multi-year investment to provide more Californians with broadband access. 

  • Middle-Mile Broadband Initiative (MMBI): $3.25 billion was allocated to CDT to oversee the development, construction, maintenance, and operation of a statewide open-access middle-mile network through the MMBI. Significant progress has been made on the 10,000-mile plus MMBI project, which includes contracts for building, leasing, and purchasing segments of the network, as well as procurement of thousands of miles of conduit and fiber to mitigate potential supply chain risks.  
  • Last-Mile Programs: $2.75 billion was allocated to the CPUC for last-mile grants programming for Local Agency Technical Assistance, the Federal Funding Account, and the Loan-Loss Reserve Fund.  

These programs were funded with a combination of federal and State dollars and must be completed by December 2026. 

Get Connected! California Mobilization 

The Broadband for All Action Plan directed State agencies to develop partnerships to promote and track enrollment in low-cost programs to increase the State’s broadband adoption rates. These efforts began during the pandemic with the promotion of the Emergency Broadband Benefit program and continued with the promotion of the FCC’s ACP.  

In 2022, the CBC established the goal of connecting 90% of the state’s eligible population to the ACP.[65] Led by CDT, CPUC, CETF, CDE, CSL, and regional partners, this effort has built a statewide cohort of entities that coordinates efforts to raise awareness of ACP through direction notifications and assists eligible individuals to enroll in the program through onsite enrollment events.  

This expanding cohort consists of state agencies, internet service providers, regional and local governments and departments, broadband consortia, and community-based organizations. 

CDT actively promotes ACP on the Broadband for All Portal, and in partnership with CETF and California State University, Chico, developed a number of tools to support these efforts including a low-cost offer finder, ACP resource page, and ACP enrollment tracker by county and zip codes. As a result, California leads the nation with over 2,732,340 ACP enrollments as of 11/20/2023.  

Charts showing 45% of California households are eligible for ACP, and 47% of eligible households are enrolled.

In further support of these efforts, 15 California entities, including CDT and CETF, were awarded $6 million in ACP Outreach grants from the FCC. These funds will support a statewide outreach and awareness campaign through direct notifications and localized ACP enrollment events. 

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Broadband Programs 

The IIJA included a $65 billion investment to further broadband and digital equity efforts in states and communities across the nation. All programs funded through this federal legislation – the ACP, Digital Equity Planning, Capacity, and Competitive Grants, the BEAD Program, Enabling Middle-Mile Infrastructure Program, Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, and ReConnect Program – provide critical funding for the Broadband for All program.  

Digital Equity Act 

The Digital Equity Act established three sequential grant programs to be administered by the NTIA including the State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program, the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program, and the State Digital Equity Competitive Grant. CDT received a $4 million NTIA State Digital Equity Planning grant that has funded the production of this Digital Equity Plan. The State intends to apply for its allocation of Digital Equity Capacity Grants to implement the plan and to support entities within the State to apply for Digital Equity Competitive Grants and other sources of funding. 

Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program  

The CPUC is the State’s administering entity for the BEAD program. It developed its initial Five-Year Action Plan in close coordination with CDT. California received a BEAD allocation of $1.86 billion. The Five-Year Action Plan augments and expands the State’s existing efforts to ensure that every Californian is served by affordable and reliable broadband.[66] As noted in the Five-Year Action Plan, the CPUC plans to develop a data-driven broadband strategy, leverage State and federal funding, create a holistic approach to funding, and provide technical assistance to tribes, local governments, and other entities.[67] 

Enabling Middle-Mile Infrastructure Program[68]  

In 2023, CDT received $73 million from this grant program to fund spurs of the MMBI network to extend the State’s network to unserved communities.  

Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program[69] 

Since 2022, 28 tribal entities received grants totaling $157 million to be used for broadband deployment on tribal lands, as well as for telehealth, distance learning, broadband affordability, and digital inclusion. 

Reconnect Program (USDA Rural Utility Service)[70] 

Since 2019, almost $91 million in grants have been received by California entities through the ReConnect Loan and Grant Program to provide funding for the cost of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas.  

Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program  

In 2022, over $24 million was awarded to nine institutions of higher education in California to provide funding for “the purchase of broadband internet access service and eligible equipment or to hire and train information technology personnel.”[71]  

Digital Equity Bill of Rights 

Signed by Governor Newsom on October 8, 2023, this bill states, “…that it is the principle of the state, to ensure digital equity for all residents of the state, that residents shall have access to broadband that meets specific requirements, … to the extent technically feasible, broadband internet subscribers benefit from equal access to broadband internet service within the service area of a broadband provider…”[72]  

2.4 Local Digital Equity Plans 

CDT reviewed and tracked local and regional digital equity planning efforts to identify common goals and initiatives, promote coordination and alignment among plans and the SDEP, and identify any additional goals and barriers as related to covered populations.  

Below is a sample of local and regional digital equity plans from across the state that were shared during the planning process and informed the development of this SDEP. Components of these plans, and others like them, may be eligible for funding through the State’s Digital Equity Capacity Grant or NTIA’s forthcoming Digital Equity Competitive Grants.  

Title of Plan Local Entity
City of Chula Vista Digital Equity and Inclusion Plan
County of El Dorado Digital Equity and Inclusion Plan
City of Fairfield Digital Equity Playbook (Version 1)
City of Fort Bragg Digital Infrastructure Project
City of Long Beach Digital Inclusion Roadmap
County of Los Angeles Free Broadband for the Residents (Delete the Divide)
County of Marin Strategic Plan
City of Moorpark Broadband Strategic Plan
City of Oceanside City of Oceanside Digital Equity Plan
County of San Diego Comprehensive Broadband Plan
San Diego Association of Governments Regional Digital Equity Strategy and Action Plan
San Diego Region Broadband Planning, Permitting, and Implementation
City of San Francisco Digital Equity Strategic Plan; Digital Equity Playbook
City of San Jose Digital Inclusion and Broadband Strategy
County of Sonoma Broadband Strategic Plan; Access Sonoma Broadband Action Plan
City of Ventura Broadband and Fiber Master Plan

2.5 Objectives and Strategies  

Informed by more than a year of data collection, civic engagement, and participatory planning, and in alignment with the requirements of the Notice of Funding Opportunity under the State Digital Equity Planning Grant, this Digital Equity Plan defines additional objectives and corresponding strategies to accelerate the State’s ability to achieve its goals. 

Covered Populations 

The Digital Equity Act establishes the following “covered populations” as those for whom digital equity investments are intended, based on national research regarding populations most impacted by barriers to digital equity.[73] In total, 33.5 million Californians – 85% of the State’s population – belong to one or more of these populations.[74] CDT recognizes that some activities must be more targeted to populations whose needs are greater than others. 

Covered Population Total across CA Share of CA population
Individuals who live in covered households (Below 150% Federal Poverty Line) 7,852,694 20%
Aging individuals (60+) 7,968,822 20%
Incarcerated individuals[75] 199,000 0.50%
Veterans 1,467,026 4%
Individuals with disabilities 4,126,478 10%
Individuals with a language barrier 6,377,455 48%
Individuals who are members of a racial or ethnic minority group 24,223,326 61%
Individuals who primarily reside in a rural area 2,278,733 6%


The following objectives build on Broadband for All and are derived from the deep public engagement and planning process described in Section 4. Organized according to California’s well-established goals, they also align to five categories of objectives defined in the Digital Equity Act, including:  

  • The availability of, and affordability of access to, fixed and wireless broadband technology; 
  • The online accessibility and inclusivity of public resources and services;  
  • Digital literacy;  
  • Awareness of, and the use of, measures to secure the online privacy of, and cybersecurity with respect to, an individual, and  
  • The availability and affordability of consumer devices and technical support for those devices. 

Goal 1 – All Californians have high-performance broadband available at home, schools, libraries, and businesses. 

The State’s BEAD Five-Year Action Plan includes two objectives that will also be tracked through this Digital Equity Plan: 

  • Objective 1.1 – Increase the percentage of Californians who are connected to broadband internet service. 
    • Baseline – Using the NTIA and FCC’s data and broader eligibility criteria for served locations, California has an estimated 306,910 unserved locations (locations without 25/3 Mbps service) and an additional 151,107 underserved locations (lacking 100/20 Mbps service).[76] A representative sample of Californians surveyed by telephone for this Plan, suggests that only 91% of Californians are connected,[77] which results in an estimated 3.5 million Californians remain unconnected to internet service as a result of limited infrastructure, affordability issues, and other barriers.[78] The covered populations that are among the least connected include low-income households (81% connected), individuals with language barriers (81%), individuals who primarily reside in a rural area (86%), and Hispanic or Latin(o) households (88%).[79] 
    • Target – All Californians to be connected to broadband service by 2030. 
  •  Objective 1.2 – Increase the percentage of Community Anchor Institutions that are connected to broadband internet service. 
    • Baseline: As part of its planning process for the BEAD program, CPUC is evaluating current levels of connectivity among community anchor institutions in the state. 
    • Target: All Community Anchor Institutions have gigabit service by 2030. 

This Digital Equity Plan adds two access metrics to focus on quality of service and reliability, as well as consumer choice: 

  • Objective 1.3 – Increase the percentage of Californians who report that their internet service is reliable. 
    • Baseline – Eighty-eight percent of telephone survey respondents report that internet service is adequate for their household needs.[80] 
    • Target – 100% of Californians have reliable internet service that is adequate for their household and business needs by 2030. 
  • Objective 1.4: Increase the percentage of Californians who have a choice of at least three internet service providers. 
    • Baseline – The CPUC’s 2018 Competition Report found that 35% of California households have access to only one provider offering service greater than 25/3 Mbps, and only 6.8% have access to three providers offering service greater than 25/3 Mbps.[81] 
    • Target – All Californians have access to at least three internet service providers by 2030. 

Goal 2 – All Californians have access to affordable broadband and necessary devices. 

  • Objective 2.1: Decrease the percentage of Californians who cite cost as the primary barrier to internet service. 
    • Baseline – According to the telephone survey, “Cost is known to be the main factor that affects a households’ decision to adopt broadband service.”[82] Sixty-one percent of telephone respondents[83] and 70% of respondents to CDT’s online survey cite cost as the main reason for not having an internet connection at home.[84] 
    • Target – Reduce the percentage of households that cite cost as the reason for not adopting internet service by 2026. 
  • Objective 2.2 – Reduce the percentage of Californians who rely solely on a smartphone to use the internet. 
    • Baseline – Three percent of respondents to the telephone survey rely solely on a smartphone – half of the percentage in 2021;[85] 10% of online survey respondents use a smartphone only to connect to the internet.[86] 
    • Target – Reduce the percentage of Californians who rely solely on a smartphone by 50% every two years. 
  • Objective 2.3 – Increase the percentage of Californians enrolled in low-cost internet options and subsidies, including the Affordable Connectivity Program.  
    • Baseline – As of November 20, 2023, 2,732,340 of 5,844,797 eligible households (47%) are enrolled in ACP;[87] 77% of unconnected households are unaware of ACP;[88] only 22% of online survey respondents are aware of low-cost options from internet service providers.[89] 
    • Target – Ninety-nine of ACP-eligible households are enrolled in ACP by the end of 2024, and 98% by 2027. 
  • Objective 2.4 – Reduce the average cost that covered populations pay for internet service. 
    • Baseline – Californians spend an average $83.60/month on broadband, with notable variations among covered populations.[90] 
    • Target – Average costs are reduced for covered populations and fewer households cite cost as the reason for not adopting internet service by 2026. 

Goal 3 – All Californians can access training and support to enable digital inclusion. 

  • Objective3.1 – Increase the availability of digital literacy, cybersecurity, and skills training programs. 
    • Baseline: Locally based service providers have shared details of more than 270 programs currently offering digital training skills support in the state, with meaningful differences by geography.[91] These are complemented by numerous other programs supported by CPUC, CETF, and other entities. CDT is continuing to build out its inventory of these programs statewide through implementation of this Digital Equity Plan. 
    • Target: Expand the number of Californians, especially those who identify as part of a covered population or a digitally disadvantaged community, who received digital literacy, cybersecurity, or digital skills training by 50% by 2026 and by 75% by 2030. 
  • Objective 3.2 – Increase the percentage of Californians who have access to technical support services for internet-connected devices. 
    • Baseline: Twenty-two percent of online survey respondents say they do not have access to technical support services in their household or community.[92] 
    • Target: Increase the amount of digital navigation services provided by 2028. 
  • Objective 3.3 – Reduce the percentage of Californians whose concerns for privacy and cybersecurity prevents broadband adoption or effective use. 
    • Baseline: Twenty-two percent of online respondents are unfamiliar with cybersecurity;[93] 17% have no cybersecurity measures setup on their devices or do not know if they do.[94] 
    • Target: Reduce the share of Californians, especially those who identify as part of a covered population or digitally disadvantaged community, whose concerns about privacy and cybersecurity impact their use of the internet by 50% by 2026, and by 75% by 2030. 
  • Objective 3.4 – Increase the percentage of Californians who possess basic, intermediate, and advanced digital literacy skills. 
    • Baseline: Nearly one in three telephone survey respondents who lack broadband at home cite limited digital skills as one of the reasons for not subscribing to the service.[95] 19% of online survey respondents are less than comfortable downloading and installing a new app on their smartphone or tablet,[96] 17% are less than comfortable making an appointment online (ex. DMV),[97] and 15% are less than comfortable when paying bills online.[98] 56% of telephone survey respondents were found to have advanced digital skills.[99]  
    • Target: Reduce the share of Californians, especially those who identify as part of a covered population or digitally disadvantaged community, who lack basic digital literacy skills by 50% by 2026, and by 75% by 2030. 
  • Objective 3.5 – Expand the number of members of covered populations hired in broadband infrastructure and technology jobs. 
    • Baseline: According to the Fiber Broadband Association, “fiber workers are predominantly white (59.6%) and male (89.8%) and skew older than the median age worker in the US at 44 years old.”[100] 
    • Target: There is an increase in the number of individuals who identify as part of a covered population hired for broadband infrastructure and technology jobs. 
  • Objective 3.6 – Increase the percentage of Californians who utilize the internet to apply for or use public benefits and other essential services and can participate in civic and social engagement online. 
    • Baseline: Forty-six percent of telephone survey respondents – and only 21% of unconnected or underconnected respondents – use the internet for telehealth;[101] Fifty-five percent of online survey respondents rarely or never use the internet to apply for or use public benefits (e.g., CalFresh/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medi-Cal, Social Security, etc.).[102] 
    • Target: Increase the share of Californians, especially those who identify as part of a covered population or digitally disadvantaged community, who utilize the internet to apply for or use public benefits and other essential services and can participate in civic and social engagement online by 50% by 2026, and by 75% by 2030. 

Each of these objectives defines how the State will measure progress against its goals statewide. However, different covered populations, other digitally disadvantaged communities, and localities within the state start from different baselines (see Section 3.4), including differences in both digital needs and the availability of digital inclusion services and organizations. As the State develops and deploys strategies to achieve its goals, these differences will inform the focus of new investments. 


Realizing California’s Broadband for All goals requires strategies specific to each goal. These strategies complement the action items in the Broadband for All Action Plan as well as CPUC’s BEAD Five-Year Action Plan. They are necessary to overcome the barriers identified in Section 3.3 and provide additional framing for the key activities identified in Section 5.1. Most of the strategies fall into ten broad categories that emerged from the State’s 21 regional planning workshops and group tribal consultations:[103] 

  • Construct high-speed broadband infrastructure throughout the state to achieve ubiquitous deployment foundational for universal adoption. (Expedite construction and development of middle-mile network and last-mile projects.) 
  • Implement comprehensive digital inclusion programs that overcome the three primary barriers for low-income households to achieve universal adoption: (a) sign up for affordable home internet service; (b) acquire an affordable computing device; and (c) access digital literacy training to become digitally proficient. 
  • Ensure that communities disproportionately impacted by barriers to digital equity are central to the design, development, and delivery of digital equity programs, and that socioeconomic benefits are captured primarily within these communities. Consult and empower covered populations and other digitally disadvantaged communities to help plan and implement all strategies to achieve digital equity. Those intended to be served must be involved in planning and delivering the services. 
  • Deliver services to people where they live and gather (meet people where they are; take services to the people instead of requiring people to come to the services). Ensure that digital inclusion programs and resources are tailored to the specific cultural dynamics of covered populations and are made available in the languages that Californians speak. 
  • Engage and support “trusted messengers” in existing community-based organizations (CBOs) and institutions who already serve the covered populations to deliver digital inclusion programs and services. 
  • Develop all informational materials and awareness media in-language and in-culture. 
  • Advance universal design to ensure accessibility and assistive technology for everyone. 
  • Leverage existing resources by engaging major institutions (including counties, cities, schools, higher education, tribal governments) and human services systems (such as education, healthcare, libraries, economic and workforce development, essential services) to integrate digital inclusion strategies into current programs and services.  
  • Align and integrate human services to focus on outcomes and convenience for individuals and households (instead of institutional bureaucracies). Train existing social workers, health workers (promotores), educators, librarians, and other human and community services workers to serve as Digital Navigators. 
  • Incorporate peer-to-peer and inter-generational strategies into digital inclusion programs.  

Each of these overarching strategies will underpin the following specific strategies associated with each of the State’s Broadband for All goals. The key activities for the State to deliver on these strategies are in Section 5.1. 

Strategies for Goal 1 – Access 

  • Expedite infrastructure build-out of existing Broadband for All investments and BEAD  
  • Ensure new broadband infrastructure is resilient to wildfires and disasters  
  • Continue to leverage and explore all available current/future funding  
  • Promote interim alternative technology solutions  
  • Evolve State broadband data/maps to meet state’s goals 
  • Fund and provide resources to increase capacity of other entities to contribute to mapping  
  • Prioritize hiring/training local covered populations for broadband jobs 

Strategies for Goal 2: Affordability 

  • Complete deployment of existing Broadband for All infrastructure investments  
  • Fund last mile programs to connect to MMBI  
  • Require providers connecting to MMBI to promote ACP and low-cost offers  
  • Conduct statewide and hyperlocal awareness campaigns regarding low-cost offers and ACP 
  • Advocate for improvement of ACP enrollment process and expanded eligibility  
  • Advocate for extension of ACP or successor program, or development of state affordable offer 

Strategies for Goal 3: Adoption 

  • Conduct statewide and hyperlocal awareness campaigns regarding benefits to in-home internet and desktop/laptops
  • Persistent and multi-level promotion of ACP and low-cost programs  
  • Conduct outreach in language and in culture through trusted messengers  
  • Bundle broadband adoption and ACP outreach with other services and programs with similar eligibility requirements 
  • Provide enrollment assistance to covered populations  
  • Deploy digital navigators, and ethnic and cultural group  
  • Develop or fund device subsidy program for covered populations  
  • Develop statewide digital literacy training framework and certificate program  
  • Develop, fund, and make available a statewide digital literacy training platform  
  • Develop grants to fund training centers at Senior Centers and Veterans Halls  
  • Fund and coordinate multi-level digital navigation programs to provide technical support  
  • Develop a California Connect Corps Grant program to fund digital navigation 


[38] California Department of Education, accessed October 10, 2023.
[39] https://www.cde.ca.gov/eo/in/digitaldivide.asp, accessed October 29, 2023.
[40] https://www.caeducatorstogether.org/, accessed November 17, 2023.
[41] https://citrispolicylab.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Building-on-UC-Broadband.pdf, Accessed October 16, 2023, page 1.
[42] CSUCCSESS, accessed October 10, 2023.
[43] Ibid.
[44] https://www.calstate.edu/coronavirus/Pages/campus-wireless-access.aspx.
[45] Vision 2030 A Roadmap for California Community Colleges, accessed October 10, 2023.
[46] https://www.calbright.edu/why/.
[47] https://www.chhs.ca.gov/about/#mission-statement.
[48] Guiding Principles and Strategic Priorities, accessed October 10, 2023.
[49] https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/About.aspx, accessed October 29, 2023.
[50]https://www.pacesconnection.com/fileSendAction/fcType/5/fcOid/525718672527258968/fodoid /525718672527258964/DigitalDivide_FIN.pdf, accessed October 29, 2023.
[51] https://connectedca.org/, accessed October 31, 2023.
[52] https://aging.ca.gov/Information_and_Resources/Access_to_Technology/, accessed October 31, 2023.
[53] LWDA | Labor & Workforce Development Agency (ca.gov), accessed October 9, 2023.
[54] https://business.ca.gov/#.
[55] Community Economic Resilience Fund – Office of Planning and Research (ca.gov).
[56] https://cdt.ca.gov/about/.
[57] Ibid.
[58] https://www.govops.ca.gov/about-the-california-government-operations-agency/.
[59] https://www.govops.ca.gov/what-we-do/vision-mission-and-goals/.
[60] Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., Executive Order B-10-11, Signed September 19, 2011.
[61] CPUC Five Year Plan, https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/-/media/cpuc-website/divisions/communications-division/documents/broadband-implementation-for-california/bead/california-bead-five-year-action-plan—final-draft—20230828.pdf, accessed September 16, page 12.
[62] Ibid.
[63] https://broadbandcouncil.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/68/2020/12/BB4All-Action-Plan-Final.pdf, page 3.
[64] https://broadbandforall.cdt.ca.gov/progress-tracker/.
[65] https://broadbandcouncil.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/68/2022/10/cbc-meeting-presentation_10-12-22.pdf, slide 24.
[66] California’s BEAD Five Year Action Plan, https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/-/media/cpuc-website/divisions/communications-division/documents/broadband-implementation-for-california/bead/california-bead-five-year-action-plan—final-draft—20230828.pdf, page 9, accessed September 16, 2023.
[67] Ibid.
[68] https://broadbandusa.ntia.doc.gov/funding-programs/enabling-middle-mile-broadband-infrastructure-program.
[69] https://broadbandusa.ntia.doc.gov/resources/grant-programs/tribal-broadband-connectivity-program.
[70] https://www.usda.gov/reconnect.
[71] https://broadbandusa.ntia.doc.gov/funding-programs/connecting-minority-communities.
[72] https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202320240AB414, accessed October 9, 2023.
[73] https://broadbandusa.ntia.doc.gov/sites/default/files/2022-05/DE%20PLANNING%20GRANT%20NOFO.pdf, page 8.
[74] U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2021 (5-Year Estimates).
[75] Ameelio Recommendations, August 31, 2023, slide 9.
[76] https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/-/media/cpuc-website/divisions/communications-division/documents/broadband-implementation-for-california/bead/california-bead-five-year-action-plan—final-draft—20230828.pdf, accessed September 16, 2023, page 105.
[77] Bar, F., Galperin, H., Le, T., 2023 Statewide Digital Equity Survey, page 61.
[78] Ibid.
[79] Bar, F., Galperin, H., Le, T., 2023 Statewide Digital Equity Survey, page 21.
[80] Bar, F., Galperin, H., Le, T., 2023 Statewide Digital Equity Survey, page 33.
[82] Bar, F., Galperin, H., Le, T., 2023 Statewide Digital Equity Survey, page 27.
[83] Ibid., 36.
[84] Digital Equity Needs Assessment and Asset Inventory for the State of CA, August 28, 2023, slide 14.
[85] Bar, F., Galperin, H., Le, T., 2023 Statewide Digital Equity Survey, page 11.
[86] Digital Equity Needs Assessment and Asset Inventory for the State of CA, August 28, 2023, slide 31.
[87] https://broadbandforall.cdt.ca.gov/affordable-connectivity-program/acp-enrollment/, accessed October 31, 2023.
[88] Bar, F., Galperin, H., Le, T., 2023 Statewide Digital Equity Survey, page 39.
[89] Digital Equity Needs Assessment and Asset Inventory for the State of CA, August 28, 2023, slide 74.
[90] Bar, F., Galperin, H., Le, T., 2023 Statewide Digital Equity Survey, page 25.
[91] Digital Equity Needs Assessment and Asset Inventory for the State of CA, August 28, 2023, slide 101.
[92] Ibid., slide 33.
[93] Ibid., slide 53.
[94] Ibid, slides 53-54.
[95] Bar, F., Galperin, H., Le, T., 2023 Statewide Digital Equity Survey, page 44.
[96] Digital Equity Needs Assessment and Asset Inventory for the State of CA, August 28, 2023, slide 42.
[97] Ibid.
[98] Ibid.
[99] Bar, F., Galperin, H., Le, T., 2023 Statewide Digital Equity Survey, page 45.
[100] https://www.zippia.com/fiber-optic-technician-jobs/demographics/, Accessed October 11, 2023.
[101] Bar, F., Galperin, H., Le, T., 2023 Statewide Digital Equity Survey, page 46.
[102] Digital Equity Needs Assessment and Asset Inventory for the State of CA, August 28, 2023, slide 64.
[103] Broadband For All, Digital Equity, and BEAD Regional Planning Workshops, 10 Overall Themes of Recommended Strategies from the 17 Regional Workshops, June 12, 2023