Gold Country Broadband Consortium (GCBC)

The goal of the Gold Country Broadband Consortium (GCBC) is to increase digital access and use of broadband in designated counties in the Sierra Nevada: Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Sierra, and eastern Alpine counties. 

The Gold Country Broadband Consortium is one of 11 regional consortiums in California funded by the California Advanced Services Fund Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortia grant program. GCBC was formed to leverage regional, state, and natural resources to launch public-private partnerships that will together improve and expand broadband access.

Broadband Announcements:

Affordable Connectivity Program

SBC, in partnership with Gold Country Broadband Consortium, is promoting and supporting the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The Affordable Connectivity Program is an FCC benefit program to help qualifying households afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare and more. Eligible households can reduce their monthly internet bill up to $30 and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. These households are also eligible for a one-time $100 discount when buying a laptop or tablet from participating providers.

Local Agency Technical Assistance Grant

SBC and Gold Country Broadband Consortium want to ensure you are aware that the Local Agency Technical Assistance (LATA) grant application window is now open. Up to $1 million may be available for each local agency or tribal government, per fiscal year to reimburse pre-construction expenses for last mile and middle mile broadband development in unserved/underserved communities.

Applications are reviewed on a monthly rolling basis until funding allocation is extinguished therefore, we recommend agencies apply as soon as possible. SBC wants to support your efforts in applying for this funding. Please let us know if you plan to apply and we can schedule time to review the application process and requirements.

CPUC Wireline Testing Opportunity

California is undertaking its own internet testing to gather data to provide critical information to state policymakers dealing with broadband connective issues. Broadband policy and grant funding decisions require verifiable data to determine if the internet service speeds as advertised by the provider are being delivered. Data collected will help ensure funding is directed to priority areas identified as unserved and underserved.

These devices consist of a small computer that connects to the fixed service in a home by a wired connection to an available Ethernet port on the user’s broadband modem/router.

If you would like to volunteer to test your household or promote this effort for your community, please visit: https://www.calspeed.net/about.html

Round Two, Nevada County 2021 Last-Mile Broadband Grant Awards

In April 2021, the County of Nevada Board of Supervisors awarded $500,000 of funding to leverage $3.85 in private dollars to connect broadband service to 440 homes in an effort to support distance learning, remote working, and telemedicine. Northern Sierra Broadband, in the amount of $120,000; Nevada County Fiber, Inc., in the amount of $113,000; Oasis Broadband, in the amount of $62,000; and Spiral Fiber, Inc., in the amount of $205,000. Each project offers a unique and innovative approach to expanding broadband in areas challenged by both remote geography and low population density.

To learn more, please read the following news articles: 

Closing The Digital Divide

Broadband access has evolved into a basic need for all, yet many Californians have struggled with access to broadband in rural regions for years. These pockets of “unserved” or “underserved” populations in California are missing out on what is now seen as an amenity critical to quality of life and the term “digital divide” refers to the growing challenges for rural residents who lack access to broadband. 

Throughout our rural regions, connecting to broadband in the least populated areas is often cost prohibitive for internet service providers (ISP) due to sparsely populated communities and topography challenges. The largest ISPs argue that a breakeven point, let alone a profitable point, is not possible in these more remote areas. Services to those addresses beyond that middle mile area to the sparsely populated “last mile” are often bypassed. Alternative methods of accessing the internet via satellite or other modes of transmission can be less than ideal. Services that are installed in rural areas are expensive and often poor quality, meaning download and upload speeds are slow and unreliable. Beyond the rural inaccessibility issue there are also issues with affordability for disadvantaged communities.

This divide has enormous consequences. Today, internet service is an imperative tool for our education, health, local economy, emergency plans, and beyond. 

Speed Test Instructions: 

Your speed test helps GCBC document the gaps in the California Broadband Coverage MapWhile the California Broadband Map may indicate your home or business is served, a speed test will determine if your connection does not meet the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) broadband definition of 6 Mbps Down and 1 Mbps Up. 

First: Click here to take the CalSPEED test. It is important you use this test because it will automatically report the information to the CPUC. 

Next: Record your results in the form below. 

If you’re having difficulty taking the test or you don’t have the ability to get internet service at your home you can notify the CPUC directly by filling out the form available here and mailing it to the CPUC. Directions are available on the form. 

If you have any questions, please contact Kari Sinoff at (530) 562-4992 or ksinoff@sierrabusiness.org

Thank you for your participation!

 

By filling out the above survey form you are consenting that your address may be shown as a point location on the California Broadband Map along with any details your submit regarding broadband service at that address. This information will be used for determining the availability of broadband in California and will be publicly accessible. Your name and email will not be disclosed on the map. If you have any concerns, questions, or comments, please email broadbandfeedback@cpuc.ca.gov or call (415) 703- 5469. The California State privacy policy can be found at http://www.ca.gov/privacy.html.th

Read more about this focus area:

Join Us In Creating A More Resilient Sierra.

To learn more about this program, contact: 

ksinoff@sierrabusiness.org
530.582.4800