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, and Sierra counties. We work with local governments, businesses, and community members within these counties to find solutions to affordable and reliable broadband.
News & Announcements:
SBC’s Gold Country Broadband Consortium Contract Renewed to Advance Rural Broadband Deployment
In January 2023, the California Public Utilities Commission awarded $565,000 to Sierra Business Council, on behalf of the Gold Country Broadband Consortium (GCBC) to support four rural counties in advancing broadband deployment.
The GCBC program is funded through the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortia Grant, as part of a $10.3 million award to support 15 regional broadband consortia across California for service over the next three to five years.
Consortia activities are designed to facilitate the deployment of critical broadband infrastructure in California and remove barriers to digital equity. Some of these activities include:
- Engaging with local, regional, and state stakeholders, and consumers to assess needs
- Promoting broadband deployment, cost-saving strategies, and solutions
- Assisting in correcting maps used to identify unserved areas
- Identifying priority project areas
- Assisting with project planning and permitting activities
- Assisting with grant applications to unlock funding opportunities
About the GCBC
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.
Please reach out to project manager Kari Sinoff at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to set up a meeting or request support.
We’re launching a new broadband-specific newsletter for community members, jurisdictions & public agencies, and internet service providers to deliver timely project and funding updates to your inbox the moment we hear about them. To sign up for this newsletter, follow the link below:
Upcoming Broadband Announcements & Opportunities:
Affordable Connectivity Program
SBC, in partnership with California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), 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
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.
Concerned about your internet speed? Take the Broadband Speedtest:
The data collected in this speed test helps us document the gaps in the California Broadband Coverage Map. While 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 here. (Link coming soon)
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.
Join Us In Creating A More Resilient Sierra.
To learn more about this program, contact: