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Broadband is no longer a luxury

Broadband, which connects wifi services to the internet and allows for cellular connectivity, has become a necessity for homes and businesses. Especially since the Covid-19 Pandemic, more and more people are working from home. To do so effectively, they need access to the internet to maintain a website, to communicate with coworkers and customers and more. Businesses doing sales with a credit card or through a payment service need access to the internet in order to ensure there are funds available to complete the purchase. School children may need to access the internet for their homework. Many rely on wifi for their cell phones to work. When broadband connectivity fails, these things can't happen. And neither do emergency notifications.

On Friday, February 23rd, the BCBA hosted a meeting along with Congressman Jimmy Panetta and the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP) to discuss the lack of effective broadband service in Boulder Creek. On the panel and guests of the meeting included a select group of local business and community leaders, representatives from state elected offices, county government officials, area-serving ISPs, as well as state and federal broadband offices. The focus of the meeting was to discuss the needs of the community and the means to serve those needs. The common goal amongst everyone in attendance is to have 100% of the users having functional access 100% of the time.

Boulder Creek isn't alone in it's struggle with broadband. It is a nationwide issue and is being addressed as such. Congress approved over $42 billion to be spent on improving broadband infrastructure. Nearly $2 billion of this has been allocated to California. Last week, Cruzio, a local ISP, was awarded a grant by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in a unanimous vote that approves Cruzio's Equal Access Summits to the Sea (EAS2S) proposal. This will bring high speed internet to several coastal communities, including Boulder Creek. Their middle-mile infrastructure will be "open access", as well, allowing for other ISPs to connect and take services into homes and businesses.

Getting everyone connected, and maintaining that connection, is the goal. Congressman Panetta and MBEP have been working on similar projects in Big Sur. As stated by Congressman Panetta, “The historic build-out of broadband infrastructure across the country requires active engagement from our community to ensure its success. In collaborating with the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership to convene informative roundtables, we want to make sure that our community is united and ready to advocate strongly for reliable and reasonable broadband and cellular service. We want to continue to build our partnership at every level with local businesses and community leaders so that California’s 19th Congressional District leads the way for this transformative investment.” And MPEP's President and CEO, Tahra Goraya, stated, “Access to reliable and affordable internet has become a critical necessity impacting education, healthcare, and economic opportunities, yet too many disparities persist. Investing in broadband infrastructure, fostering public-private partnerships, and expanding last-mile connectivity are essential steps toward closing the Digital Divide in our rural communities and across the Monterey Bay region.”

Here's how you can help! The FCC has a national broadband map that you can access by clicking here. This map will show broadband access that your location should have. You can test your actual download and upload speeds using various apps. If your location does not have sufficient internet speed, or doesn't match what the FCC map shows, we urge you to let Congressman Panetta know by clicking here. The more voices that speak up, the louder we'll be heard!

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