Last-mile and adoption programs
SB 156 Broadband Programs
In July 2021, Governor Newsom signed SB 156 providing a historic $6 billion to accelerate the state’s commitment to bridging the digital divide by increasing equitable, affordable access to high-speed internet service across California. Of this, $2.75 billion was allocated to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to establish the following three programs.
Federal Funding Account
The $2 billion Federal Funding Account to build last-mile infrastructure for Californians without access to high-speed broadband service. The CPUC is implementing the program in Rulemaking (R.) 20-09-001.
Loan Loss Reserve
A $750 million Broadband Loan Loss Reserve Fund supports costs related to the financing of local broadband infrastructure development. The reserve fund expands local governments’ ability to secure financing for building last-mile projects, with an emphasis on public broadband networks. The CPUC will implement the program in Rulemaking (R.) 20-08-021.
Local Agency and Tribal Technical Assistance
A $50 million Local Agency and Tribal Technical Assistance grant program to reimburse Tribes and local agencies for eligible pre-construction expenses that facilitate deployment of broadband network deployment projects to areas in need. On February 24, 2022, the CPUC adopted the technical assistance decision and program guidelines (D. 22-02-026). The CPUC is implementing the program in Rulemaking (R.) 20-08-021.
Broadband Deployment, Assistance, Affordability, and Adoption Programs
In addition to the programs above, the California Public Utilities Commission administers a suite of broadband deployment, assistance, affordability, and adoption programs.
Broadband Infrastructure Grants
Broadband Infrastructure Grant Account
Established in 2007, this program provides broadband infrastructure grants in unserved areas in the state. It is funded by an ongoing surcharge on telecommunications bills that may not exceed one hundred fifty million dollars ($150,000,000) per year. The CPUC is implementing statutory changes to the program rules in Rulemaking (R.) 20-08-021.
Broadband Line Extension Grant Account
AB 1665 created the Line Extension Program (LEP) as a pilot project within the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) Broadband Infrastructure Grant Account, setting a $5 million program budget. Under the LEP, an individual household and/or property owner can apply for an infrastructure grant to offset the costs of connecting a household or property to an existing or proposed facility-based broadband provider. The CPUC may consider modification to the program rules in Rulemaking (R.) 20-08-021.
Broadband Deployment Assistance Grants
Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortia Grant Account
This program provides grants to eligible consortia to facilitate the deployment of broadband services by assisting infrastructure grant applicants in the project development or grant application process. The CPUC is implementing this program in Rulemaking (R.) 20-08-021.
California LifeLine Program
The California LifeLine program provides a monthly subsidy of $16.23 to low-income qualified participants for wireline or mobile voice and broadband services. The program works in tandem with the federal Lifeline program, operated by the Federal Communications Commission, which provides a monthly subsidy of up to $9.25 for telephone and broadband services.
California Teleconnect Fund
The California Teleconnect Fund (CTF) program provides a 50% discount on advanced communication services (including Internet access and broadband services) to qualifying K–12 schools, libraries, community colleges, government-owned hospitals/health clinics, and community-based organizations.
Broadband Equity, Adoption, and Education Programs
Broadband Adoption Account
This program provides grants to increase publicly available or after-school broadband access and digital inclusion, such as grants for digital literacy training programs and public education to communities with limited broadband adoption. The CPUC is implementing this program in Rulemaking (R.) 20-08-021.
Broadband Public Housing Account
This program will award grants to low-income communities to finance projects to connect broadband networks that offer free broadband service. This program is being implemented in Rulemaking (R.) 20-08-021.