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Monday, Jan 30, 2023

Californians Are Served by Broadband Connections

“Broadband , high-speed Internet access , is as important as waterways and highways ” for our communities, began John Eger’s commentary March 10 (“California Communities Need Broadband Action”), but his conclusions are dated and not aligned with the facts.

Having served on the governor’s Broadband Task Force that Mr. Eger references, I can report that we conducted extensive mapping of the entire state to understand where California stood on broadband access.

The report found that more than 35.5 million Californians (or 96 percent of the state’s households), has access to broadband services, with nearly 60 percent subscribing to high-speed services. This ranks California No. 1 among states in broadband access and No. 10 globally.

San Diego and Imperial counties enjoys some of the state’s fastest speeds (over 91 percent have access to 10 megabits or faster) and high adoption rates. Billions of investment dollars from private industries, including cable and phone companies, have resulted in an advanced broadband infrastructure that will provide San Diegans with even faster speeds and more feature-rich products in the future.

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Mr. Eger is right that there is still progress to be made.

The task force report enumerates important recommendations to the Governor to ensure all Californians have access (serving the last 4 percent) to high speed Internet services through subsidies, grants and existing funds, along with increasing broadband usage by providing job skills training, and computer donations to libraries and schools.

Funding In Place

These programs use existing funding already in place!

Mr. Eger advocates for municipalities to build expensive infrastructure, yet the landscape is already littered with failed attempts by cities to build or partner on Wi-Fi (wireless Internet) projects, and our downtowns are replete with abandoned fiber investments by bankrupt companies. Communications infrastructure is both capital-intensive and risky.

The private sector doesn’t “block” the market, but rather, gambles significant private investment on future markets.

Our municipalities would serve our communities best by focusing on important government-provided services such as new roads, water supply and balancing budgets, and let multiple industries such as cable, phone and satellite invest billions on speculative communications projects like Wi-Fi , fiber infrastructure and new advanced telecommunications services.

Bill Geppert is Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cox Communications in San Diego, and served on the governor’s California Broadband Task Force.


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