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The wait for rural broadband in Sonoma County may not be much longer

Construction of a broadband system for rural residents in California could begin by the end of the year, according to Golden State Connect, a regional Joint Powers Authority established to increase access to high-speed internet for residents and businesses in unincorporated areas of Sonoma County and 38 other rural member counties.

Golden State Connect Authority is on a mission to bring high-speed internet to rural residents in California. The proposed broadband system aims to lower costs for internet service providers, making it possible for them to offer affordable internet to rural residents. The Authority, which is governed by elected officials from member counties, will finance and construct open-access public broadband infrastructure using state and federal funding, including from California Senate Bill 156, the American Rescue Plan Act, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is fully behind the initiative, having allocated funding for broadband initiatives and supporting legislation at the state and federal levels. In 2022, the County received a $500,000 grant from the California Public Utilities Commission to support the high-level broadband network design for unincorporated areas with little or no internet service.

The Board of Supervisors will make a decision on the best broadband delivery model for the county after the design is complete. The Sonoma County Economic Development Board and Library are also working on a public information campaign to improve internet service data.

“Unincorporated areas of Sonoma County have long experienced limited broadband availability and that’s a major concern and priority for our board,” said Chris Coursey, chair of the Board of Supervisors. “In today’s world, we need reliable internet to carry out the demands of life and business. That’s why our board allocated funding to support broadband initiatives, including broadband legislation at the state and federal levels. We’ll continue to fight for equitable, affordable broadband in Sonoma County.”

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