San Jose to Bridge Digital Divide with “Digital Inclusion Fund”

San Jose, California this week announced a $24 million grant program aimed at closing the city’s digital divide. Local officials expect the “Digital Inclusion Fund” to finance the deployment of high-speed internet to an estimated 50,000 households and 95,000 residents.

According to State Scoop:

The fund, which Liccardo said will be the largest of its kind in the nation, will be supported through the fees the city charges wireless providers to install small cell technology on light poles in the city.

“It is always a good day when we can expand technology options in the capital of Silicon Valley while ensuring that no resident of our city will be left on the wrong side of the digital divide,” Liccardo said Tuesday.

By improving internet access throughout the city, San Jose officials say the city’s K-12 education and workforce development will also be improved. Some of the grants will be sent to libraries and community centers to host programming like after-school coding programs and device-refurbishment or donation centers.

The project is moving forward despite the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) controversial small cell order, which went into effect earlier this year. The order aims to streamline and reduce the industry’s costs for the deployment of small cells within the local rights of way at the expense of local authority. The controversial ruling was opposed by local governments and organizations nationwide, including MACo.

More than 80 counties and cities, including San Jose, have filed lawsuits challenging the FCC’s order to preempt local rules on the deployment of small cell wireless equipment. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is expected to issue a ruling later this year.

Useful Links

State Scoop: San Jose’s ‘Digital Inclusion Fund’ to bring internet to 50,000 homes

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: FCC Approves Small Cell Order; Limits Local Authority

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: MACo Submits Concerns to FCC Over Small Cell Order

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Communities Seek to Appeal FCC Small Cell Order