As a major step towards regional collaboration and information sharing, the Eastern Sierra Connect Regional Broadband Consortium (ESCRBC) held its first regional broadband workshop on April 26 in Palmdale, Calif. More than 50 participants representing diverse interests from six regional counties attended the one-day event that featured speakers and staff from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), USDA Rural Development and the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF).
The purpose of the workshop was to provide timely information to interested parties on issues relating to expanding broadband capacity throughout the region. As part of a statewide program, the CPUC has funded regional consortiums to implement a program of work intended to identify potential projects that may qualify for funding from the CASF for broadband infrastructure improvements to expand broadband access throughout the state (see http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/Telco/CASF+Consortia/index.htm). The ESCRBC is one of the regional consortiums participating in the statewide effort and the workshop was part of a comprehensive public outreach and education plan.
Representatives from the CPUC and CASF provided attendees with a review of the recently updated broadband availability mapping technology that can be used to identify broadband served, underserved and un-served areas throughout the state. The mapping technology allows internet service providers to research targeted areas for potential broadband infrastructure projects.
Dan Johnson, USDA Rural Development Area Specialist provided an overview of program areas and funding sources available through the agency. The funding sources include a rural broadband loan program as well as business and cooperative programs.
Dr. Earl Ferguson, Md., PhD gave a presentation highlighting the potential for using the internet for enhanced telemedicine programs that can connect patients with healthcare professionals throughout the state, without having to drive hours for consultations. His presentation illustrated how technology is being used to transmit records and images in a timely and expedient manner.
ESCRBC Board members John Rothgeb and Richard Chapman also presented: Rothgeb on a possible radio wave scenario for broadband in extremely remote areas, such as Darwin, and Chapman on economic trends and benefits of increased broadband in Kern County.
Representatives from One Million NIU, the San Joaquin Valley Regional Broadband and Inland Empire Regional Broadband consortiums provided updates on efforts and projects they have begun to implement in their region. These consortiums are also participating in the statewide effort to expand broadband capacity and adoption.
The members of the ESCRCB represent three counties in the Eastern Sierra and include Deborah Hess (Kern), Judy Hyatt (Kern), Richard Chapman (Kern), Brandon Schults (Inyo), Doug Thompson (Inyo), John Rothgeb (Inyo), Ron Day (Mono), Nate Greenberg (Mono) and Danna Stroud (Mono). For more information on the ESCRBC and to access presentations from the workshop please contact Alice Lauritzen, firstname.lastname@example.org, 760.446.1974. –Press Release
For more on the local component of Eastern Sierra Connect, click here.