Construction began Thursday near Poway on the first section of a 10,000-mile broadband network intended to bring high-speed Internet service to everyone in the state.
“California is now one step closer to making the digital divide a thing of the past,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “Today, we begin building to bring affordable high-speed Internet to every home in California, because lives depend on access to a reliable and fast Internet connection.
“This is about ensuring that all Californians, regardless of the zip code they call home, can be a part of the Golden State’s thriving and diverse economy,” he said.
Work on the “Middle Mile” network has begun on State Route 67, where Newsom administration officials gathered Thursday as 500 feet of fiber optic cable was blown through the conduit in the first segment of a $3.8 billion statewide broadband project.
When completed, Middle Mile will be the largest such broadband network in the country, officials said. Government funding will be available for “last mile” connections from the grid to rural communities. According to the governor’s office, about one in five Californians lack access to reliable and affordable high-speed Internet, including more than 200,000 people in San Diego County.
“Beginning construction of the middle mile network is a significant step toward broadband equity and enabling all Californians to access critical information,” said California Transportation Agency Secretary Toks Omishakin. “High-speed internet is much more than a connection – it’s the lifeline families need to work, learn and access critical services.”
A local project that began Thursday will be a fiber-optic line that runs from Lakeside to Ramona. Once the network is complete, local operators will have access to the network to provide communities with direct service to homes and businesses, as well as low-cost or free broadband internet service for those who qualify.
“We are delighted to see the start of construction of the middle mile network,” said Government Operations Secretary Amy Tong. “Too many rural and urban areas lack adequate broadband infrastructure, forcing residents to try to connect via cellular hotspots and unreliable satellite services, leaving too many Californians behind.”
In July 2021, Newsom signed Senate Bill 156 to expand the state’s broadband fiber infrastructure and increase internet connectivity for families and businesses. It includes provisions related to the $3.25 billion originally planned for the construction, operation and maintenance of the state-owned Middle Mile network. The 2022 budget also includes $550 million in project support.