Tell Your Lawmakers to Oppose Anti-Rural Fiber Legislation

For years, rural communities in California have either lacked access to the Internet, or have been dependent on decaying copper DSL lines provided by incumbents such as Frontier Communications. The solution for these communities is to have the state finance fiber in those communities and empower local governments and small private ISPs to connect them to high-speed Internet. 

Yet rather than chart a new course for rural communities, A.B. 570, a bill introduced by Assembly Member Aguiar-Curry, proposes to amend the state’s Internet infrastructure program to prioritize slow broadband networks to the exclusion of deploying fiber to homes and businesses.

We oppose A.B. 570, and urge you to tell your lawmakers to do the same. Tell them that we should be trying to connect all Californians to equivalent services, rather than have the state finance slow connections for people in most need of help.

The bill establishes a criteria where the state must prioritize “cost-effective” deployment of broadband at the woefully out-of-date speed of 25/3 mbps. The biggest beneficiary from such a standard is legacy incumbents such as the now bankrupt Frontier Communications—and the ones who stand to lose the most are the rural Californians the company has neglected for years. 

Today’s law already leaves more than 1 million Californians who do not have broadband off the table for state support because they are stuck with Frontier’s slow DSL, or slow wireless networks. The pandemic has shown that lacking a high-speed connection carries real cost in that you can’t remote work effectively or access remote education. Everyone needs high capacity networks today backed by fiber and the state should support the transition into the high-speed era, not forestall it with California tax money. 

A.B. 570 stands for the proposition that rural Californians should accept expensive obsolete networks while urban Californians begin to enter the gigabit era.

If we are going to spend taxpayer money building broadband infrastructure, it needs to be done right the first time and it needs to support equivalent services for all Californians.

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