Southern Border Broadband Consortium
The Southern Border Broadband Consortium is an ongoing initiative dedicated to providing internet services to underserved communities within the border region of Southern California. The California Advanced Services Fund has helped finance the SBBC in its efforts to expand internet connectivity in the San Diego and Imperial counties. In 2017, this foundation has approved four new projects that will help provide internet connectivity for more than 13,000 households in six counties across California. In addition, the California Emerging Technology Fund has helped subsidize the SBBC. This venture is largely supported by the successful mergers of SBC-AT&T and Verizon-MCI. These new entities have contributed $60 million to further advance broadband connectivity efforts in California for the next five years. SBBC wants to assist in making use of those funds regionally.
May 2019 Update
The Southern Border Broadband Consortium has been working hard to increase our community outreach and awareness. Rene Pollard was hired in September 2018 as the Outreach Coordinator. The marketing and outreach materials have been revised to increase the collection of internet needs surveys at resource fairs, workshops, and community events. USB devices are given out when a questionnaire is completed, which has increased exponentially!
The SBBC has been continuing our collaboration with local agencies to bridge the Digital Divide, including the Boys and Girls Club of Imperial Valley, WPNP, Tech Depot, ICOE, Area Agency on Aging, SBDC, GeoLinks, and Calipatria Unified School District. We have increased the number of community events we are attending and have several more on the calendar for this quarter. Spectrum has been working with SBBC to determine locations for five Wi-Fi towers to be installed in Imperial County. Educational workshops are being drafted in coordination with the Area Agency on Aging and the Small Business Development Center, following the NTIA's Toolkit guidelines.
SBBC is coordinating with the Boys and Girls Club of Imperial Valley, Workforce Development Board, Spectrum, and ICOE to establish Digital Literacy Centers throughout Imperial County to provide a work area with laptops and iPads for students attending the facilities. If you are interested in donating any computers, laptops, iPads, or sponsorship, or for more information on these centers, please contact Glenna Barrett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SBBC traveled to Oakland in December 2018, and Sacramento in March 2019 to attend the California Emerging Technology Fund Board of Experts Advisors Roundtable. It was a great opportunity to meet and interact with key people at CETF as well as several representatives of the CPUC in attendance and continuing involvement at the state level to maintain forward momentum. Topics of discussion included the use of broadband for improving emergency services, digital inclusion, and perspectives and proposals from local government.
Our most recent quarterly meeting was held in conjunction with the Communications, Technology, and Digital Inclusion Panel of speakers at the Imperial Valley Renewable Energy Summit on April 24, 2019. The event was hosted by Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation and was held at Imperial Valley College. The panel was moderated by Buz Schott of Charter Communications. Panelists included Matt Rantanen with Digital Tribal Village; Teri Sanders with Imperial County Office of Education; Philip Deneef with GeoLinks; and Antonio Romayor, Jr. with El Centro Elementary School District. Philip Deneef presented at a breakout session on how to get connected in rural communities. Philip provided interactive maps and information on areas GeoLinks is assisting communities in getting connected to broadband in the area.
The Imperial County Office of Education hosted Tech de Mayo and the Celebration of Education to support efforts to close the Digital Divide for families as well as closing homework gap for students without internet access at home, SBBC was able to sponsor both of these events. ICOE has been busy expanding its BorderLink project to install towers and provide students with connectivity at home.
SBBC has been working with the California Public Utilities Commission to get the word out about their meetings and infrastructure grant opportunities. More information can be found at their website (https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/Communications/
The USDA Rural Development office is dispersing information on their ReConnect Program, which offers loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in areas of rural America without sufficient access to broadband. More can be found about that program on their website (https://www.usda.gov/reconnect/events