This is really important news! Governor Brown signed AB 1999 on 30 September 2018. Communities can now treat broadband as a critical infrastructure, just like water, wastewater management, trash collections, fire protection, and public transportation.
Community Networks has the details:
AB 1999 focuses on the responsibilities and authority of community service districts (CSDs), created to provide necessary services. CSDs are independent local governments usually formed by residents in unincorporated areas for the purpose of providing the kinds of services city-dwellers often take for granted: water and wastewater management, trash collection, fire protection, etc. In keeping with the ability to raise funds for these services, CSDs have the authority to create enhanced infrastructure financing districts (EIFDs). CSDs are allowed to use EIFDs to fund development of Internet access infrastructure in the same way they would sewer infrastructure, or convert overhead utilities to underground, or other projects that deal with infrastructure and are in the public interest.
Prior to the adoption of AB 1999, however, a CSD would first have to engage in a process to determine that no person or entity was willing to provide Internet access before the CSD could offer it to premises. Additionally, if a private sector entity came along after the infrastructure was deployed and expressed a willingness to do so, the CSD had no choice by law but to sell or lease the infrastructure they had developed rather than operate it themselves.
With the passage of AB 1999, CSDs no longer need to adhere to those strict requirements.
When the California State Legislature chose to pass the bill, lawmakers sent a message to big cable and telephone companies that they are no longer willing to bend over backwards to protect incumbent monopolies that ignore their rural constituents. Other states with restrictions championed by national ISPs and their lobbyists need to take note of California’s decision. Voters already believe that the federal government doesn’t do enough to bring high-quality Internet access to rural areas. State laws that further restrict options add to their frustration.
This a major step toward empowering local communities! Now the problem is getting local communities to exercise that power. Local communities can stop waiting for the 5G that will never come and start taking action to meet the broadband needs of their citizens.