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February 6, 2009

Re: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

– Broadband Component and Rural Regions


We strongly urge Congress and President Obama’s Administration to continue to

include significant funding for rural broadband infrastructure deployment in the federal
economic stimulus package. An investment in broadband not only will immediately
generate jobs, but it also will measurably enhance America’s global competitiveness,
which in turn will attract more capital investment to generate additional jobs. We also
propose the attached recommendations and approach to ensure effective and efficient
disbursement of federal funds for rural broadband deployment and adoption. This
proposal is based on the experience and track record in California which prepares the
state to partner with the federal government to invest in rural broadband deployment
that will help ensure the economic vitality of California’s rural regions.

The California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) in partnership with the state’s rural
regions has invested over $5 million in major projects supporting rural broadband
demand aggregation and telemedicine, working with 7 regional consortia involving 35
of California’s 58 counties. In addition, rural leaders continue to pursue ready projects
to connect K-12 and higher education facilities. We’ve engaged public officials, civic
leaders, stakeholders and industry to advance broadband. These efforts have yielded
numerous “shovel ready” projects statewide.

The thrust of the demand aggregation projects is to quantify how much demand exists
that may not have been recognized previously by the marketplace and to identify assets
that could be used to facilitate deployment that might not have been made available
before to providers. Specifically, the projects are tasked to accomplish the following:
(a) quantify individual and aggregated demand by prospective anchor tenants, industry
clusters, and residential areas, including price sensitivity; (b) map infrastructure and
other fixed assets that could be used to help deploy broadband service; (c) simplify
county and municipal policies; and (d) tap the ingenuity of entrepreneurs in the region.
Thus, there is an increasing reliable information base to determine how much public
funding is required to achieve the goal of ubiquitous rural broadband availability.

According to the California Rural Health Policy Council, 92 % of the California’s

landmass is rural and has a population of almost 3 million residents. The California
Broadband Task Force found that almost 50% of rural Californians lack any broadband
access, more residents than 16 other states individually. Further, the rural populated
land area that is totally unserved by broadband collectively would be the 37th largest
state, or about the size of Kentucky. The 2008 survey by the Public Policy Institute of
California (commissioned by CETF and ZeroDivide) found that 51% rural Californians
have a broadband connection, 58% have Internet connection and 65% have computer or
laptop at home. However, 77% find the Internet as a very (48%) or somewhat (29%)
important source of information in their everyday life—evidencing that there is unmet
broadband need and demand in rural California and rural America.

Public investments and incentives for rural broadband deployment also need to require
sufficient speeds to accommodate applications today and in the future. Now is not the