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Digital Equity LA Summit Pushes CPUC to Ditch Priority Areas Map
As Los Angeles County officials work with community coalitions to improve high-speed Internet access in underserved communities across the region, the Digital Equity LA Summit last week focused on the challenges ahead. Front and center: urging state officials to fix the broadband priority maps the state will use to target where to invest $2 billion in state broadband grant funds with the state months away from receiving over a billion additional dollars from the federal BEAD program.
Los Angeles County and California Are Building A Broadband Future – Episode 502 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Shayna Englin, Director of the Digital Equity Initiative at the California Community Foundation. During the conversation, the two talk about Shayna’s work with the Digital Equity Initiative, how their coalition brought about recent wins for community broadband in LA County, and what’s next in the fight to build a community-owned fiber network there.
They discuss the political realities faced by activists pursuing community broadband, and get into the nitty gritty of working within a massive bureaucracy. Zooming out, Shayna highlights exciting updates on California’s broadband spending, and specific projects with the potential to transform connectivity throughout the state.
This show is 39 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed.
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Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index. See other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance here.
Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.
LA County Moves Closer to Municipal Broadband
Last November the LA County Board of Supervisors quietly and unanimously approved a project that could dramatically reshape affordable Internet access in the largest county in the United States. While success will require coordination at an unprecedented scale to avoid the mistakes of the past, this new effort has momentum and funding options on its side.
The newly approved plan first aims to deliver wireless broadband to the 365,000 low-income households in Los Angeles county that currently don’t subscribe to broadband service, starting with a 12,500 home pilot project. But the vote also approved a new feasibility study into a Los Angeles county-wide municipal fiber network.
The motion tasked the LA County Internal Services Department, directed by Director Selwyn Hollins, with coordinating the effort. Hollins in turn is working with the City of Los Angeles’ Bureau of Street lighting (which had already received a CBDG grant to help fund local Wi-Fi networks) and other regional city agencies already engaged in digital divide efforts.
Sources familiar with project planning say it’s too early to specify pricing and speeds, but one goal is to be able to provide symmetrical 100 Mbps service for $30/month. As with other communities (like Fort Pierce, Florida), the county then hopes to layer on the $30 discount from the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program to ensure costs are negligible for low income residents.
Join Us Thursday at 5pm ET for Episode 29 of the Connect This! - New Year, New Rules
In this episode of the Connect This! Show, co-hosts Christopher and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) are joined by Kim McKinley (UTOPIA Fiber) and Doug Dawson (CCG Consulting) to kick off the new year.
The panel will dig into the recently released Final Rules released by the Treasury on use of the Rescue Plan dollars, before diving into some regional developments in New York and Los Angeles. They'll end by sharing some thoughts about how the broadband landscape is likely to shape up during the coming year.
Subscribe to the show using this feed on YouTube Live or here on Facebook Live, or visit ConnectThisShow.com
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Watch here, or below.
California South Bay Cities Finish Fiber Network, Look to Smart Traffic Applications
A group of 15 cities in Los Angeles County, California, are closing in on the completion of the South Bay Fiber Network. The project, managed by the South Bay Cities Council of Governments (SBCCOG), will bring better connectivity to community anchors and enterprise customers in the region through a public-private partnership with American Dark Fiber (ADF).
According to a recent press release [pdf] from SBCCOG, some public facilities are already connected to the fiber ring, and the partners expect to finish the rest of the network by the end of the month. Once completed, the local governments hope that the SBFN will enable smart city applications, like traffic signal coordination, as well as telehealth services and remote learning and working.
Christian Horvath, Redondo Beach Councilmember, said in the press release:
The SBFN will allow us to serve all our residents better and improve their quality of life on so many levels including real-time transportation/traffic control connectivity . . . The Covid-19 pandemic has proven to any doubters that access to affordable and reliable high-speed Internet is even more important as it will allow the increasing numbers of city workers and local residents to efficiently work from home.
SBCCOG began its efforts in 2016 and has been working with consulting firm Magellan Advisors to plan the fiber network, which will be a mix of newly constructed infrastructure and leased fiber.
The SBFN will connect the cities of Carson, El Segundo, Gardena, Hawthorne, Hermosa Beach, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lomita, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, and Torrance in Los Angeles County. Local institutions and government authorities are also participating in the fiber project, including the Beach Cities Health District, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro), Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, Lundquist Institute, South Bay Workforce Investment Board, and West Basin Municipal Water District.
South Bay Cities Sign Up Fiber Partner in California
The South Bay Cities Council of Governments (SBCCOG), a group of 16 cities, has joined with Los Angeles County and will work with American Dark Fiber to develop a fiber optic network throughout the region.
Unclogging the Streets, Now and Tomorrow
The public-private partnership aims to develop infrastructure to improve local connectivity, but another key goal is real-time transportation and traffic control. With better traffic synchronization that involves all the participating communities, traveling from one town to the next can be seamless. The SBCCOG is also considering a future that will include autonomous vehicles and seeking the connectivity needed to manage driverless cars.
In addition to applications that directly impact traffic on the road, the SBCCOG is considering ways to reduce the number of car trips. They want to invest in a fiber network to enable applications such as smart city halls — allowing folks to access municipal services from home — telemedicine, distance education, and telecommuting. By reducing the need for people to travel with their vehicles, the sixteen communities that belong in the SBCCOG also aim to reduce pollution.
The consultant hired by SBCCOG in 2016 to develop a Master Plan recommended that the organization pursue a public-private partnership. American Dark Fiber (ADF) will build the network, the city recently announced [PDF]. SBCCOG received $4.4 million in funding from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and $1.2 million from the State of California to build the fiber ring. The network is the foundation for the region's master plan, which they also developed with consulting firm Magellan Advisors.
Approximately 100 miles of fiber will connect all city halls, at least two data centers, and approximately fifty other buildings identified as “critical” by the SBCCOG. The network will belong to ADF, but Jory Wolf, Vice President of Digital Innovation at Magellan Advisors, says that communities that belong to SBCCOG will be able to opt out at various intervals of the contract.
Business, Education Call on Culver City to Invest in Muni Fiber in L.A. County
Last fall, Culver City hired a consultant to develop a design and business plan for a possible fiber network project. Recently, prominent business leaders and parents of local school children have publicly expressed their support for a municipal network.
Culver City, also known as "The Heart of Screenland" is situated in west L.A. County, surrounded primarily by the City of Los Angeles. Approximately 39,000 people live in this community that is beginning to draw in the tech industry. In addition to Disney's Maker Studios, Apple owns Culver City's Beats Electronic, known for high-tech headphones. Culver City wants to stay current to compete with Santa Monica, home to a number of tech businesses that connect to its publicly owned City Net.
The L.A. Weekly reports billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, owner of NantWorks, has encouraged city leaders to move forward with the project. His specific request is that five business districts be included in the network deployment. NantWorks, located in one of those districts, provides cloud-based operating systems to support telehealth. According to the article, Soon-Shiong is rallying other business leaders:
Soon-Shiong has been encouraging other business owners in the area to support the plan, which is expected to come before the City Council sometime in October.
"He feels this is key," said Mike Sitrick, a spokesman for Soon-Shiong. "He’s talked to various city officials and told them how important he thinks it is, not only to his business, but to attracting additional businesses to Culver City."
Local elected officials report positive feedback as the city reaches out to determine interest in the project:
"We're still attempting to gauge the degree of interest," said Councilman Andy Weissman, though he added, "I'm confident it's going to happen."
California's Smallest Incorporated City to Extend Fiber to Residents
Residents of Vernon, California, will soon have the option to connect to the City's fiber optic network. Vernon offers dark and lit fiber to local businesses via 35 miles of fiber but residents are stuck with slow DSL connections. An EGPNews.com article reports:
City officials say they hope to bridge the digital gap for its residents by becoming an Internet Service Provider, creating, and operating a small-scale broadband residential service program. The Internet will be provided to residents through direct fiber optic connections or via a wireless service connection.
The program will be available to all existing and future residences in the city.
Vernon Light & Power Department Fiber Optic Division serves this town's 5.2 square miles located south of downtown Los Angeles. The population is only 112 in 31 existing households. The network will also connect a future residential project, Meta Housing, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013. The City is the smallest incorporated city in the state, describing itself as "exclusively industrial." Vernon is home to over 1,800 businesses that employ 50,000 people from surrounding communities.
The new initiative will connect residents for a one-time connection fee of $100. Monthly service will cost $40.65, which is $10 less than DSL. The fiber connections will be 10 times faster than current DSL speeds. Residents should be able to access the network by November 1.