Open Access Middle Mile

Middle-Mile Network Overview

The State of California is in the process of planning, developing, and operating an essential open-access statewide “middle-mile” network, which will be overseen by the California Department of Technology (CDT). This physical mid-section of broadband infrastructure is comprised of high-capacity fiber lines. Once operational, internet service providers and other eligible entities can connect and deliver service through the new middle-mile network.  

Network Locations

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) contributions to the statewide open-access middle-mile network are outlined in Government Code section 11549.54 and include providing middle-mile network locations to the California Department of Technology Office of Broadband and Digital Literacy in a staff report.

Section 11549.54 outlines priorities for identifying locations and required that the CPUC solicit and receive public comment on specified aspects of the middle-mile network within 90 days of Governor Newsom signing SB 156 into law. As required by statute, the CPUC did invite public comments during the period from August 6, 2021, through October 15, 2021.  See below for a visual representation of those comments.


This page briefly summarizes CPUC activities in support of the Middle Mile Broadband Initiative led by the California Department of Technology.

The CPUC sent the California Department of Technology (CDT) a letter on November 16, 2021, in which it concurred with the initial middle-mile project locations. The objectives of these initial locations include testing approaches for the middle-mile network, accelerate projects in unserved areas, to leverage potential project efficiencies with pending Cal Trans projects, and to coordinate with any California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) grant applications that include middle-mile infrastructure. The initial projects will be the first step in developing the statewide middle-mile network that will help close the digital divide.

On December 30, 2021, the CPUC published a mapping analysis tool that enabled CDT to view 1) relevant data on locations in California without access to the 25/3 Mbps broadband speeds, 2) the public comments on the May 2021 revision of the proposed project, 3) Cal Trans’ construction projects, and 4) the Cal Trans state highway network and current middle-mile project locations.

On March 15, 2022, the CPUC also sent CDT a comprehensive analysis of middle-mile projects, as required by Government Code Section 11549.54. As reflected in the analysis, these projects will facilitate last-mile connections and are also in locations with middle-mile infrastructure that currently lacks sufficient open-access, capacity, and affordable rates. This analysis is a foundation for implementing the finalized middle-mile project locations, identifying priority routes, and helps ensure relevant state agencies meet the requirements of SB 156.

Public Engagement on Network Locations

Rulemaking 20-09-001 “Order Instituting Rulemaking Regarding Broadband Infrastructure Deployment and to Support Service Providers in the State of California” is the forum for submitting comments on the middle-mile locations. The Broadband Infrastructure Deployment Proceeding web page demonstrates two ways to comment, both informally and as a party to the proceeding.

The CPUC received these public comments on the statewide open-access middle-mile network. Comments responded to two rulings in the Rulemaking 20-09-001 - the August 6, 2021 Ruling requesting input on middle-mile locations and the September 9, 2021 Ruling focused on network characteristics.

  • Public Comments Map: Middle-mile public comments mapped onto the Anchor Build Fiber Highways Map.

The formal comment period for both rulings has closed, but informal written public comments may be provided at any time while the proceeding is open by using the "Add Public Comment" button on the upper right corner of the "Public Comment" tab of the Docket Card. See R.20-09-001 hereto add Middle-Mile informal comments.

Data Sets and Reference Information

Related Divisions