LOS ANGELES (CNS) — With the goal of bridging a “digital divide” and enabling equal access to the Internet, a citizen group called the Committee for Greater LA has released a roadmap outlining the path to achieving universal broadband access in Los Angeles County until 2020 points to 2027.
In a report titled “Connecting Communities Countywide: Delivering Broadband as a Civil Right in Los Angeles,” the group calls for all LA County residents to be connected to at least 100/20 Mbps broadband service for $30 or $30 by 2027 less per person to be connected month.
According to the committee, the goal is for every resident in the county to have the means to roll out fiber broadband service at multi-gigabit speeds by 2040.
To that end, the report outlines several actions to achieve digital justice – including the creation of a statewide internet infrastructure agency, widespread adoption of the federal program for affordable connectivity, and the formalization of a digital justice-focused organization.
The Committee for Greater LA bills itself as “a group of citizen leaders working to drive system change and dismantle institutional racism.”
A statement from the group called the need to address digital justice “urgent,” adding, “While many Angelenos depend on high-speed internet for school, work, and resources, far too many people in LA County are being left behind.”
“Decades of digital redlining practices in many of LA County’s black and low-income communities have helped systematically deprive residents of access to affordable, reliable, and fast Internet,” the group said in a statement.
Committee Chair Miguel A. Santana said: “While there are many initiatives addressing the digital divide, this is the first policy draft to provide a roadmap to drive efforts for bold, systemic and progressive action for lasting Leveraging and coordinating changes related to broadband equity.”
The committee cited a 2020 study by USC Annenberg that showed a third of students in the Los Angeles Unified School District don’t have access to high-speed Internet.
Additionally, a 2021 survey by the California Emergency Technology Fund found that affordability is the top barrier to broadband access for the majority of households without an internet connection, the group said.
The Committee for Greater LA’s report was presented by its Internet Action Team, which included 130 people from various sectors, including government, academic, business, technology and community leaders.
Among them were Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snap, and Los Angeles City Councilwoman Nithya Raman, chair of the council’s Technology and General Services Committee.
“Many advocates, foundations and community leaders have sounded the alarm about ensuring all Angelenos have the opportunity to access affordable, high-quality internet at home,” Raman said. “Connectivity is not evenly distributed across our city and county, leaving many students, business owners, low-income residents and communities of color behind.”
Jarrett Barrios, co-chair of the Internet Action Team and Senior VP of Strategy and Programs at the California Community Foundation, added, “Our blueprint incorporates the voices of many partners working on digital justice and focuses on actions that support local and regional government agencies can take to address broadband policy through the lens of the public interest in LA.
“We ask who decides what government investments in fiber optic infrastructure, wireless networks, subsidy programs or digital skills training should be made now and in the future, and which systems influence those decisions.”
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Holly Mitchell filed a motion last week to create a Director of Digital Equity position for the county.
“Internet access has always been essential for people and families to learn, work, and access life-saving resources and information,” Mitchell said. “Yet, high-quality, affordable Internet remains out of reach for far too many people in Los Angeles County.”
The report calls on “all government, civil society and community actors” to work together to achieve universal broadband access by 2027.”
“LA County stands at an historic opportunity to become a national leader in broadband capital and the delivery of world-leading connectivity services to all residents and businesses,” the report states.
“Now is the moment for bold, progressive action – the energy and support are already in place for many initiatives, but a concerted push is needed to ensure everyone benefits from the ubiquitous broadband effort.”
Spiegel said: “We were inspired by growing community support to build a more inclusive digital future. We have a unique opportunity to come together across industries to ensure Los Angeles leads the nation in broadband equity and to help unlock the full potential of the people and businesses in our region.”