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Strategizing To Bridge The Broadband Internet Infrastructure Divide

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Sonora, CA — The State of California is hosting a meeting in Tuolumne County this afternoon where leaders from a seven-county region are discussing challenges and opportunities related to broadband internet expansion.

It is at the new Tuolumne Resilience Center on Bay Avenue.

The federal government will be announcing billions of dollars in state allocations in the next few months available via the Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program.

Len De Groot, Information Technology Project Manager for Tuolumne County government, helping to coordinate the county’s broadband efforts, says the federal money will help fund “last mile” broadband connections to underserved areas. He adds, “One of the requirements is for California to develop a Digital Equity Plan. The state has been gathering information from counties, municipalities, tribes, and others to find out who is most affected by the digital divide, what they need, and what they can do to address it in the most practical way.”

Today’s meeting features a mix of county government leaders, internet service providers, and state and federal officials.

The meeting opened with a welcome from Tuolumne County District Four Supervisor Kathleen Haff.

Cole Przybyla with the California Department of Technology is serving as the event moderator. Przybyla previously led Tuolumne County’s broadband efforts as the Director of Innovation and Business Assistance.

Other early speakers were Darcie Houck with the California Public Utilities Commission and Marina MacLatchie with the National Telecommunication Information Administration.

Tuolumne County Supervisors Ryan Campbell and Jaron Brandon also spoke on the importance of broadband in relation to things like economic development and education.

The afternoon will include a mix of breakout sessions, networking, and information gathering.

De Groot concludes that there is optimism in Tuolumne County, and the region, about broadband opportunities, adding, “It is not going to be easy, but I think we can accomplish a lot. The reality is that there are still a lot of people who do not have (high-speed internet) service. We need to be very strategic in our approach. We have seen internet service providers (ISP) stepping up to the plate and are interested and participating, and the county is doing everything it can to help ISPs be successful in that process.”

After the State of California learns how much BEAD money it will receive from the federal government, it must submit its Digital Equity Plan by the end of the year, incorporating information from the various regions.

  • Broadband Internet Meeting In Tuolumne County
  • Broadband Internet Meeting In Tuolumne County
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