As the pandemic begins to recede, it leaves warnings behind about weak links in our overall health as a functioning society. The signs are everywhere: healthcare, water, infrastructure, education, supply chains and equitable access to technology and opportunities.

Under the leadership of the San Joaquin Regional Broadband Consortium and with support from the California Emerging Technology Fund, our goal is to bring ubiquitous broadband to the eight counties that compromise the San Joaquin Valley, among the most underserved areas. state and underestimated in its ability to lead and drive change.

And we will do it within a year – a bold but achievable achievement.

To begin with, we are announcing a new partnership, #SanJoaquinValleyNetwork, which will seek the resources necessary to provide a world-class Internet to improve economic and human conditions, because our leaders want no less for our citizens.

To be clear, this is a large business with many moving parts. Therefore, understanding the actors and the territory is essential.

Understanding the infrastructure landscape is essential

It begins by identifying what Internet infrastructure currently exists and assessing the capacity of the Internet in the eight counties. Where is it robust and, where is it missing.

Why this year? There is the political will and the funds to do it.

In July, the governor signed SB 156, which authorizes the state to work with counties, Internet service providers, school districts, hospitals, libraries, businesses, manufacturers, farmers, and municipalities. The goal is to develop a statewide open access broadband network, including the creation of rural exchange points with last mile access to homes, businesses and essential services.

The good news is that we are building on the existing network, not from scratch. Therefore, these expenditures will be much more efficient and effective.

In addition to the clearly stated intention of the legislation, heads of state have provided $ 6 billion for implementation.

In November, the counties of the San Joaquin Valley will organize and plan under the auspices of SJVRBC to obtain maximum financial assistance to implement the goals of the #SanJoaquinValleyNetwork.

Apply for Federal Grants in the San Joaquin Valley

While this effort is underway, #SanJoaquinValleyNetwork will begin asking for federal and state dollars to achieve our goal of bringing ubiquitous broadband to the valley in one year.

What results can we expect? First, as we have learned from the pandemic, we need to do more to expand deployment and access, as it is essential for so many people to have reliable and strong connections to the services they need and to access new opportunities. However, not everyone has equal access.

The internet has provided better access to health care, but not everyone has equal access, especially the elderly, low-income households and rural residents. Students at all levels over the past 18 months have had to adjust to online learning, but not everyone has the same access or ability required to be successful and gain the skills to join the hand. -work of the future.

Our economic engine, the agriculture industry, has relied on advanced technologies that depend on high-speed Internet, and Internet reliability and access are necessary for growth and productivity.

Investing in extending broadband to the most remote and underserved communities will increase the standard of living for many and the quality of life for all in the San Joaquin Valley.

Billions of dollars in California and across the country will be invested in deploying Internet infrastructure in rural, tribal and urban poor neighborhoods. Building a publicly funded open-access mid-mile infrastructure, which includes the deployment of the last mile, achieves the best of two goals: ensuring immediate Internet access for businesses and residents. That’s why business, education and civil society leaders across the San Joaquin Valley are applauding this effort.

We urge the leaders of Kern, Tulare, Kings, Fresno, Madera, Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties to join this effort.

For more information on the #SanJoaquinValleyPartnership, please contact Dr Frank Gornick at, 559-281-5200.

Dr Frank Gornick is Chancellor Emeritus of the West Hills Community College District, where he served as Chancellor for 16 years. He is the #SanJoaquinValleyNetwork project manager and lives in Lemoore. This piece is reprinted from The Fresno Bee with permission.

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