The initiative to provide free broadband to the Farmworkers Co-op in San Jerardo is an important step forward.
Tajha Chappellet-Lanier here, thinking about fiber optic cables and affordable broadband access. That came from a conversation I had this morning with James Hackett, director of business operations and development at Internet service provider Cruzio in Santa Cruz. Hackett shared some news: Cruzio has received a grant that will allow the company to build all of the infrastructure needed to provide free broadband internet to the San Jerardo Farmers’ Cooperative in Salinas.
At a To meet on September 9, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a $ 292,548 grant to support the project. “Not every Californian is lucky enough to have such a provider,” said Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves after approval. âThey really have the mindset to build for the future and make sure their investments are improved and affordable. You’re looking at it from a really consumer-centric perspective. “
“We are pleased that the CPUC, in its wisdom, has granted us the funds.” Hackett says. “Now let’s do it.”
The construction of the project will take place in three main phases. First, Cruzio has to tap into the fiber optic line in the middle mile that connects Santa Cruz to Soledad – this is done in a Monterey IT tower near the Monterey Regional Airport. Next they beam the internet to San Jerardo. And finally, wire it up in every device and install a router in every home. All of this work will take some time – it won’t be until early 2022 for the link to actually reach the cooperative.
The Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, home of the Equal Access Monterey Bay Initiative, is still looking to raise money through a fund at the Community Foundation for Monterey County. The $ 200,000 MBEP is hoping will go towards service costs with the goal of providing free services to all residents for five years.
That’s important, says Freny Cooper, MBEP’s chief operating officer, because broadband expansion is about more than just availability – it’s about acceptance and real access. “It’s the adoption piece that is tricky,” says Cooper. âThere’s no point having internet access if you lose your connection and pay $ 70 a month [but donât have the discretionary income to support that]. ”
Cooper says MBEP is still looking for key donors to support the project on a large scale, but anyone can donate any amount to the fund. In the meantime, she is delighted that the CPUC scholarship enables the work to begin. âI feel like this has been a huge win for us,â says Cooper.
It’s a big win for San Jerardo too.
-Tajha Chappellet-Lanier, Associate Editor, [email protected]