January 18, 2008 By Gina M. Scott
The California Broadband Task Force released its final findings and recommendations Thursday in a report to the Governor and Legislature. The report, "The State of Connectivity: Building Innovation Through Broadband," represents the culmination of more than a year of work by the task force, including maps of current broadband availability and speed, recommendations to achieve universal access and increased use, and a timeframe in which to meet these critical goals.
The report found that 96 percent of households have basic broadband access, placing California as a leader in broadband availability among all 50 states. While the report shows terrific news for the Golden State, there is still more work to be done. Nearly 2,000 communities are still unable to access high-speed internet, only half of Californians have access to broadband at speeds greater than 10 Mbps, and even though availability rates are at 96 percent, just over half of California households use broadband.
In order to bring the tremendous advantage of high speed internet to even more Californians, the task force has proposed seven recommendations, each containing action items to be led by both the public and private sector:
"The seven recommendations developed by the Task Force address how to reach communities with little or no access, while increasing broadband adoption rates statewide," said Secretary Dale E. Bonner, Co-Chair of the Task Force. "Implementing these recommendations will create jobs, improve public health and safety and expand educational opportunities."
"I applaud the California Broadband Task Force for its tremendous work in producing some of the nation's most comprehensive maps on this issue and making our state the first in the nation to map the speed of broadband," said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. "We should be proud that California is leading among all states in deployment, with broadband available to 96 percent of the state. Expanding broadband access keeps California competitive in a global market and stimulates our economy through job growth."
The Task Force created the nation's most comprehensive maps of broadband availability and speed, making California the largest state to develop availability maps and the first to map speed. The data represented in the maps was voluntarily supplied by over 25 broadband providers doing business in California and will provide policymakers with more information than has ever been available before.
"While California is leading among US states, our nation overall still lags behind important international competitors. The recommendations laid out in this report provide a detailed roadmap for California and the rest of the country to maintain our economic competitiveness and technology leadership through increased broadband deployment," said Task Force Co-Chair Charles Giancarlo, former Chief Development Officer of Cisco and now managing director at Silver Lake.
"The detailed mapping compiled in this report helps fill the gaps of information available to policy leaders. With this level of detail, California's public and private sectors can work together to increase adoption rates among those households with broadband access and reach the remaining those communities without it," Giancarlo continued.
The California Broadband Task Force was created by Governor Schwarzenegger in November 2006 as part of Executive Order S-23-06. The Task Force is co-chaired by Business, Transportation and Housing Secretary Dale E. Bonner and former Cisco Chief Development Officer, Charles Giancarlo. The governor appointed 19 other task force members, representing a wide array of the public and private sectors.
The full report can be viewed at www.calink.ca.gov/taskforcereport.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.