In a recent report, the California Broadband Task Force found that 96 percent of Californians have high speed Internet access, although speeds vary. Those numbers sound good, but coverage is concentrated in metropolitan areas. Over 1.4 million Californians, living almost exclusively in rural areas, are still without high speed Internet.
The report, Building Innovation Through Broadband, includes high speed Internet access maps to visualize the lack of coverage in rural areas in California. The group has made several recommendations in order to reach their goal of total coverage for all of California. They suggest:
- Building out a strong and pervasive broadband system using tax incentives, bond money and providing easier access to government-owned facilities.
- Streamlining the permit process to make it easier to build such networks.
- Expanding the opportunities for people to use the Internet by making it more available in schools and other public places, and making low-cost computers availed to low-income families.
- Encouraging and rewarding long-term research in broadband technologies, both at universities and in the private sector.
- Creating a statewide e-health network that that will help doctors remotely diagnose illnesses.
- Encouraging schools to put more educational content online, increasing the availability for off-campus learning.
The California Broadband Task Force, formed last year by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, is made up of 21 representatives from the telecommunications industry, education, nonprofits and state and local government.
"Just as California has invested in other critical infrastructure such as roads electricity and water, the CBFT believes the state must seize the opportunity to promote private-sector investment, leverage public-private partnerships and lead the effort to increase broadband availability and adoption," the task force wrote in a statement released to the press.
To improve every aspect of Californians lives from education to health care, universal high speed Internet access is vital for the state and will allow California to serve as a model for other states trying to achieve universal high speed access.