In July 2021, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the historic “Broadband for All” Act establishing a $6 billion effort to deploy fast, affordable Internet services for residents, businesses, and community anchor institutions. This is the largest-ever investment by the state for broadband equity and notably prioritizes unserved or underserved regions. Approximately $3.25 billion was allocated to build a much-needed, middle-mile network – the critical infrastructure that bridges last-mile providers to the global Internet.
In recognition of its unique networking expertise and breadth of partnerships, the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC) was chosen as the project’s third-party administrator (TPA). Under the auspices of CENIC’s California Middle-Mile Initiative, the organization created GoldenStateNet as a 501(c)(3) in August 2021 to operate as the TPA and manage all aspects of the state’s middle-mile project.
“We’re honored to be part of the most ambitious state digital equity effort in the history of the public Internet,” said Louis Fox, founder and chair of GoldenStateNet. “Our team – together with community and industry leaders – will work expeditiously to deliver on the promise of this historic legislation.”
While it was known that substandard broadband exists in communities across California, the COVID-19 pandemic amplified the state’s digital divide. Slow links to remote education in rural and mountainous areas, many Tribal Nations, and many left-behind urban neighborhoods crippled students’ ability to learn. Telework and telehealth applications similarly suffered. Due to market economies and other factors in underprivileged urban areas, last-mile provider plans proved too expensive or providers couldn’t serve these communities.
“The pandemic underscored how access to broadband is now a social determinant of health, education, work and economic security,” added Fox.”Our goal, in partnership with the state, is to ensure that every community – rural, urban, tribal – has access to broadband technologies and to do this work with alacrity.”
The Governor’s Office and the California Department of Technology (CDT) presented GoldenStateNet with 18 initial priority projects in November 2021. GoldenStateNet will oversee technical recommendations, construction, and management of the middle-mile network through construction of new fiber routes or purchase of long-term IRUs, where available. These approaches may be combined for certain projects. Wherever possible, ring topologies will be designed to improve resiliency and reliability for statewide networks and to better enable performance for home applications.
The project will continue to add routes for a cohesive, statewide network with work expected to extend through December, 2026. GoldenStateNet will collaborate with CDT, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and the California Public Utilities Commission to design, acquire, and construct the state’s middle-mile network. GoldenStateNet also will work with critical regional community stakeholder groups, last-mile providers, and industry partners to fulfill the promise of this ambitious initiative.
Funded through California State Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom’s “Broadband For All” legislation, GoldenStateNet was selected by the California Department of Technology (CDT) as its Third Party Administrator (TPA) for the state’s 3.25 billion dollar project. GoldenStateNet is managing the development, acquisition, construction, maintenance, and operation of a statewide open-access, middle-mile, broadband network. GoldenStateNet is a Limited Liability Corporation managed by CENIC. GoldenStateNet leverages CENIC’s key partnerships including broadband consortia, metropolitan and rural planning organizations, community-based organizations, state, tribal, and private sector organizations.