California gets $7.25 million broadband stimulus grant: is that all?

The NTIA has approved a $7.25 million broadband stimulus grant to bridge the technological divide and increase economic opportunities in vulnerable and low-income communities in Los Angeles, the Central Valley, Orange County, San Diego, and the Inland Empire in California (finally, a grant to a California institution). The grant will fund digital literacy training for more than 675,000 individuals, enabling them to make use of key educational, employment, and health resources online.

The recipient of the grant is the California Emerging Technology Fund. They will use the money to coordinate an outreach campaign using local partner organizations to disseminate information about broadband training and services to 5 million California residents. Among other benefits, this investment will upgrade California’s One-e-App one-stop online screening and enrollment system that helps families apply for a range of health care and social service programs. The project expects to increase adoption of broadband Internet service among key vulnerable populations by more than 130,000 households.

Why is California getting so little money?

I have been following the daily grant announcements, which, like the Miss Universe contest, promises to make some people dizzy with joy and others, slink away in tears. California, the most populous state in the Union, has received precious little of the money that the federal government has earmarked for broadband infrastructure, public computers and broadband adoption. And yet, here is a state whose high tech industry accounts for the vast percentage of the wealth generated in the United States in the last twenty years. A few million here and there gladdens the heart to be sure, but these are tiny compared to the amounts required to maintain America’s dominance in technology and keep Silicon Valley the center of innovation. I can only hope that the Secretary of Commerce will not disappoint us (as a resident of San Francisco, I need to do a bit of cheerleading for our side).

NTIA Administrator Larry Strickling says: “High-speed Internet access is the lifeblood of today’s economy.”

If he (and Congress) believe it, deep in their hearts, and recognize the importance of high tech in California, they would be providing billions to build fiber and wireless networks all over California to connect not just the public computer centers and libraries, but homes, offices, universities, hospitals and more.

The $7 million projects sprinkled here and there upon California have little impact on the high tech startups in Silicon Valley who cannot get 100 Mbps+ for under $50 per month. Many entrepreneurs are stuck paying $70 and more for cable and DSL service that is barely adequate for running and testing high-bandwidth applications, especially those involving video. I know. I have been working with a startup called utvee, whose shopping and video application,, requires a lot of bandwidth. There isn’t one entrepreneur here who does not complain about the lousy broadband options in the San Francisco Bay Area.

So before people start feeling too smug and happy about these grant awards, think about where they should really be allocated to generate the best “bang for the buck”, as Americans like to say.


  1. Startups can’t get 100+Mbps for less than $50/month? Is that the standard that we’re measuring at, now? Show me one ISP anywhere in the US that offers 100Mbps for $50/month – just one.

    The bay area is densely populated & has a number of broadband options. This money is supposed to be for *unserved* and *underserved* areas – not a surprise that big cities are left out. Big cities with dense populations don’t need government money to subsidize broadband…

  2. Yes that is the standard. In other countries you get 100 Mbps for $50.

  3. thank you kind lady for bringing and exposing the underserved issue (where ever they may be by the way) in nyc where GOVT MONEY goes to VERIZON to the tune of 500 MILLION PER YEAR..thats right every year 5 billion during the current administration(HOW DO YOU Spell SUBSIDY??)..yet we have the poorest congressional district in the country..the hungriest congressional district in the country(that would be hungry people)..the poorest urban county (in the country)..oh and the unhealthiest county in the state ..however not ONE PENNY in govt broadband stimulus is headed here…oh guess who is in due diligence for new york city??? that is right the same agency who PAYS VERIZON 500 MILLION every year…thanks larry

  4. The comment was “one ISP anywhere in the US” they are FAR AND FEW between.

    Other countries use the broadband much different than we, in the U.K. they have Broadband because the govt. spies on the public using CCTV.

    Other countries have it because ..well they are SMALL in size and had nothing until now and they got to use the better/ fast ways (wi-Bro / Wi-Max / Fiber) to provide the bandwidth to the end user.

    We are behind, because we where ahead.

    I do not want to trade my privacy for cheap Broadband

    I just want my govt. to use MY TAX DOLLARS for me and mine, not some fat cat banker who is over paid for doing little of nothing.

  5. the comment also said … big cities are not “underserved”..they are in fact..also your and min es tax dollars are going to fat cat companies (verizon 100 billion a year in revenues)and not benefiting the people..the only thing we are ahead of IS NOT USING OUR TAX DOLLARS TO HELP THOSE THAT NEED IT MOST..(JUST WANT TO SEE EVERYONE HAVE A CHANNCE)

  6. the comment also was ..big cities are not “underserved” the stimulus immediate goal ..getting real people hired and working..larry strickland and his ntia offer little assurance of this given his emulation of wall streets.. middle mile finance boondoogle.(can you say INTERNET BUBBLE?)at least that time govt money was not used..DUH..the application process needlessly complex and self defining only 3-5% of applications funded (to date)..admitting being overwelmedTHE amateur manner

  7. cont… the amateur manner in which the whole process was handled demonstrates a more streamlined
    application document is needed …item last someone who has actually seen several aspects of the building
    process necessary to spread broadband usage and has a knowledge of costs involved in start up and maintenance of many project efforts..might actually
    deter further additional failure ..

  8. Bubba,

    Don’t worry. Even if you turn off your broadband service, the government is spying on you. Ever since 9/11, governments around the world have been using FEAR to erode our civil rights. People have been just as stupid to cave into that fear. Just this week, the Congress renewed the Patriot Act, a document that violates not only the US Constitution, but the principles of the Magna Carta. But most people aren’t even aware of it, nor do they care. As one of my friends in law school used to say, “If you sit on your rights, you lose them.”