Broadband Deployment, Affordability, and Digital Equity Programs
The CPUC manages the state’s broadband grant programs, licenses and regulates providers, promotes digital equity, and analyzes the impact of the digital divide in the state.
Organizational and Regulatory Overview
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)’s Communications Division manages broadband grant programs. The Division consists of analysts, engineers, and program and project managers who are supported by expertise from the CPUC’s Legal Division, Administrative Law Judge Division, and News and Outreach Office.
The CPUC also conducts broadband infrastructure and equity mapping and analysis. The CPUC collects data directly from Internet service providers and makes it publicly available to inform public policies intended to make sure broadband is available throughout California, and to promote digital literacy and broadband usage.
- California Broadband Access and Usage Data:
- California Broadband Cost Model, detailed analysis of the cost to serve all unserved locations in California.
- Statewide analysis on the availability, affordability, andopen-access status of existing middle-mile infrastructure in the state.
- Twice annual mobile coverage speed testing, including of the FirstNet public safety communications network.
- Analysis of the affordability of all utility services, including broadband.
- Evaluation of Infrastructure Fire-Threat and Safety and Communications Provider access to utility poles.
The CPUC licenses and regulates providers of telecommunications services operating in California, as well as oversees utility safety and access to the state’s utility rights of way. Recent highlights include:
- Requiring companies to improve their emergency preparedness and enhance the resiliency of their networks, included the provisioning of backup power.
- Capping exorbitant rates and fees charged to incarcerated people and their families.
- Investigating service quality standards for communication companies.
For more information on the State of California’s broadband efforts, please visit the state’s one stop shop for broadband, the Broadband for All Portal.
CPUC Broadband Programs
Broadband Infrastructure Grants
Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD)
California has been allocated approximately $1.86 billion under the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program based on the federal government's calculation of California's share of unserved locations nationally. The Governor designated the CPUC to administer the BEAD program for California, and designated the California Department of Technology (CDT) to serve as the recipient of and administering agent for the Digital Equity Plan.
Federal Funding Account
The $2 billion Federal Funding Account is administered by the CPUC to grant funds to public and private entities to build last-mile infrastructure for Californians without access to high-speed broadband service.
Broadband Infrastructure Grant Account
Established in 2007, the Broadband Infrastructure Grant Account provides broadband infrastructure grants in unserved and underserved areas in the state. It is funded by an ongoing surcharge on telecommunications bills that may not exceed $150,000,000 per year.
To date, the program has awarded 108 projects for a total of $347,936,938 in funding.
Loan Loss Reserve
A $750 million Broadband Loan Loss Reserve Fund supports costs related to the financing of local broadband infrastructure development. The Loan Loss Reserve Fund expands local governments’ ability to secure financing for building last-mile projects, with an emphasis on public broadband networks. The CPUC is implementing this program in Rulemaking (R. 20-08-021).
Broadband Deployment Assistance Grants
Local Agency and Tribal Technical Assistance
The Local Agency Technical Assistance and Tribal Technical Assistance grant programs provide funds to reimburse eligible local governments and Tribal entities for work that facilitates last-mile broadband infrastructure deployment to communities lacking sufficient Internet.
To date, the Tribal Technical Assistance Program has awarded 30 projects for a total of $1,878,550 in funding.
Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortia Grant Account
The Consortia Grant Account provides grants to eligible consortia to facilitate the deployment of broadband services by assisting infrastructure grant applicants in the project development or grant application processes.
To date, this program has awarded 47 grants for a total of $18,730,027 in funds.
California LifeLine Program
The California LifeLine program provides a monthly subsidy of $17.90 to low-income qualified participants for wireline or mobile voice and broadband services. The program works in tandem with the federal Lifeline program, which provides a monthly subsidy of up to $9.25 for telephone and broadband services and is administered by the Federal Communications Commission.
California Teleconnect Fund
The California Teleconnect Fund provides a 50 percent discount on advanced communication services (including Internet access and broadband services) to qualifying K–12 schools, libraries, community colleges, government-owned hospitals/health clinics, and community-based organizations.
Broadband Equity, Adoption, Education, and Local Engagement Programs
Broadband Adoption Account
The Broadband Adoption Account provides grants to increase publicly available or after-school broadband access and digital inclusion, such as grants for devices, digital literacy training programs, and public education to communities with limited broadband adoption.
To date, this program has awarded 212 grants, totaling $16,844,043 in funds.
Broadband Public Housing Account
The Broadband Public Housing Account provides grants to low-income communities -- including public housing, mobile home parks, and farmworker housing -- to finance projects to connect broadband networks that offer free broadband service.
To date, this program has awarded 450 grants, totaling $13,940,626 in funds.