Municipal Broadband Business Plan
In June 2020, the Sonoma County Economic Development Board kick started a project with a nationally recognized broadband consultant called Magellan Advisors to create a Municipal Broadband Business Plan. The plan will provide solutions for Sonoma County, cities, and other municipalities to finance, build, own, and manage broadband infrastructure. The intention of this project is to support public entities with the necessary resources to pursue broadband infrastructure grants in order to foster greater competition in the region and expand broadband services into unserved areas.
North Bay North Coast Broadband Consortium
In 2007, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) authorized the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to provide grants to bridge the “digital divide” in unserved and underserved areas of the state. In 2010, CASF was expanded into three accounts, and one of those accounts became the “Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortia Account” whose intended purpose, pursuant to AB 1665, is to facilitate the deployment of broadband services by assisting infrastructure grant applicants in the project development or grant application process. More information about the CASF grant program and these regional consortiums can be found on the CPUC website.
In 2014, the North Bay North Coast Broadband Consortium received grant funding from the Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortia Account to create a 4 member county broadband consortium in partnership with Mendocino, Marin, Napa, and Sonoma counties. NBNCBC still remains operational today and its current efforts focus on assisting internet service providers apply to broadband infrastructure grant programs for deployment projects in unserved areas, as well as advocacy for broadband related legislation. There are several reasons why we believe participating in a regional consortium is beneficial:
- The rural areas of all four counties have a great deal in common: low population density, agriculture, tourism, geographical challenges to broadband deployment, and the resulting urban/rural digital divide
- Broadband connectivity does not stop at county lines, and coordinating county planning reduces capital expenses to deploy broadband.
- Regional broadband deployment also encourages network redundancy and improves reliability, which reduces broadband outages due to network damage.
- Regional cooperation also reduces costs to any one county by a sharing of resources, (such as GIS mapping, expertise, and information) and developing regional projects.
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