For Immediate Distribution
February 23, 2021
Contact: Jon Koriel
CCTA Introduces Bill with Senator Steven Bradford to Expand Digital Inclusion for Low-Income Public Housing Residents
SB 743 will provide access to free or low-cost high-speed broadband services, devices, onsite computer labs and digital literacy training in multiunit public housing developments
Sacramento, CA— On Friday, Senator Steven Bradford introduced SB 743, which will provide public housing residents access to free or low-cost broadband Internet service, digital literacy programs, computers, and devices through grants from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (CAHCD).
“Connectivity is vital to keep up in 2021 and I refuse to let those in public housing communities be left behind. In 2013, I authored legislation allocating up to $25 million for broadband infrastructure and adoption in public housing. But COVID has highlighted one reason why I created that program: the digital divide continues to widen in urban areas,” said Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena). “Low-income consumers, particularly those living in public housing, should be able to both access and afford broadband services. That is why I’m glad to work with the California Cable & Telecommunications Association (CCTA) to establish a grant program dedicated to helping those in public housing access the internet.”
SB 743 is tailored to meet the unique broadband needs of public housing communities to access service in individual housing units and in common areas transformed into computer labs offering digital literacy training. The bill also authorizes the Department to issue grants for partnership agreements with Internet Service Providers to purchase Internet service at bulk rates to provide free or low-cost service without residents facing hurdles to sign up and prove eligibility.
The Department’s grant program created by SB 743 will supplement existing programs available to low-income residents throughout the state, including the LifeLine program that subsidizes voice and broadband service and reduced-cost broadband options offered directly by Internet Service Providers.
SB 743 builds on Senator Bradford’s 2013 legislation that funded broadband infrastructure for public housing developments not already wired for service.
“Many low-income families either lack internet access or rely on mobile broadband to stay connected. The pandemic has proved that is not sustainable. SB 743 will increase broadband adoption in a sustainable, equitable way for public housing residents who struggle with the cost of service, as well as lacking a device or digital familiarity,” added Bradford.
“Our members have years of shared knowledge and experience in working to effectively bring more Californians online every year, which is why we’re working with Senator Bradford to introduce key legislative policies that we know will create and accelerate solutions to close the digital divide,” said Carolyn McIntyre, President of the California Cable & Telecommunications Association (CCTA). “Our goal is to think creatively and develop policy solutions that will have immediate and lasting benefits for Californians who are not currently online, helping them get fully connected to the Internet and setting them up for a more equitable and prosperous future.”
According to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), more than 96% of Californians have access to high-speed, reliable broadband technology. However, lack of digital literacy, awareness of reduced-cost programs, and access to computing devices remain common barriers to broadband adoption. SB 743 will help to effectively and immediately bridge the digital divide now by removing some of the most common barriers to broadband adoption for low-income public housing residents.
This bill is part of a series of legislative proposals that is being sponsored by the California Cable & Telecommunications Association (CCTA), which collectively seek to push forward sound policies in addressing the need to improve broadband access and adoption in California. California’s cable and broadband industry invests more than $2 billion annually on broadband infrastructure and more than $200 million annually in local communities to address the priorities of promoting community service, expanding digital access and literacy, and building tomorrow’s leaders. CCTA is committed to working with policy makers and stakeholders to develop forward-looking, common sense and valuable solutions to closing the digital divide in California.
About the California Cable & Telecommunications Association:
The California Cable & Telecommunications Association (CCTA) is the industry’s largest state cable and telecommunications association. CCTA is a leader in the development of video, broadband and communications policy in California, and represents the industry before the California State Legislature, state regulatory agencies and the state and federal courts.