Addressing the Digital Divide
Many California households still lack sufficient bandwidth to meet their needs. In December 2020, the Little Hoover Commission spotlighted the South Bay Fiber Network as an example of initiatives municipalities have created locally and across the globe to bring fiber broadband networks to communities. Learn more in their Issue Brief: California’s Digital Divide.
The SBCCOG has identified sub-regional underserved areas in need of better digital capacity that could be served through connection to the SBFN. These areas are in inland and eastern areas of the SBCCOG service territory. Such communities face challenges across multiple factors that depress socio-economic activity and viability. They are under-resourced technologically and underserved—effectively, they are digitally excluded.
The SBCCOG has proposed a “Digital Equity Project” that, if funded by the California Public Utilities Commission, will begin to address these inequities by conducting preconstruction broadband deployment activities. These include conducting needs assessments and conceptual design to achieve 100 megabits per second (Mbps) for better download and upload speeds across all South Bay cities. Ultimately, the project aims to eventually supply small and micro-businesses with sufficient connection to compete and excel in the 21st century marketplace, and eventually bring fiber to South Bay homes. The planning process will discover additional anchor organizations as well as neighborhoods that require new infrastructure to deliver baseline service or government infrastructure at a lower price than that provided by existing internet providers. The findings may lead to a subsequent request for funding to expand the SBFN to address digital equity and micro-business success, using existing fiber assets whenever possible.
Data will also be gathered on the unserved and underserved communities in Gardena, Hawthorne, Carson and unincorporated West Athens-Westmont in LA County’s District 2. These disadvantaged communities (DACs) have been identified as the most in need of this work. The small businesses across the South Bay, often the place of employment for DAC residents, will be evaluated on their accessed needs as well. The small business communities play a vital role in the prosperity of the region and are important to study.