Thursday, 02 February 2023

Lake County pursues broadband access study

LAKE COUNTY – County officials are preparing to lead a five-county study on broadband Internet access needs. {sidebar id=61}


Late last year, a group of North Coast counties received a grant to expand broadband access in rural areas, but Lake County wasn't included, said County Administrator Kelly Cox.


At a California State Association of Counties meeting last November in Oakland, Cox and Supervisor Ed Robey had a chance to meet with Sunne McPeak, chief executive officer of the California Emerging Technology Fund, which is providing funding for the North Coast broadband study.


Cox said he asked McPeak if it was possible to have Lake County included in that North Coast study.


“We had a good conversation,” he said, with McPeak asking Cox to follow up with her the following week.


When Cox called McPeak later as she had invited him to do, she had another idea.


Rather than join the North Coast study, McPeak suggested Lake County should be the lead agency in a new study.


Cox said he believed the proposal would be more advantageous to Lake County, because the end result should be more applicable to the county's particular needs.


Other counties participating will be Glenn, Colusa, Sutter and Yuba. Cox said they're in the process of bringing all of those counties on board now. “So far the response has been real positive.”


The California Emerging Technology Fund is going to give the county a $10,000 grant to cover the costs of preparing the grant application, Cox said, a project which will be lead by Debra Sommerfield, the county’s deputy administrative officer for Economic Development.


He added that he expects to have a written agreement from the fund this week, and McPeak has assigned a member of her staff to help the county with this project.


The broadband access study that the county wants to conduct, said Cox, will look at specific local needs, what broadband services already exist, areas of the county that are and aren't served, plus development of a plan for expanding services countywide.


He said the study also will offer Lake County the chance to learn from other areas of the state who have successfully expanded their offerings.


Emphasis, said Cox, will be placed on economic development with a view to what greater services can offer small business.


Better Internet access, he said, increases the county's capacity to host current businesses and attract new ones.


The California Emerging Technology Fund offers substantial financial support for studies like this one. Cox said the grants generally top out at $250,000 per year.


The county will use the funds to hire a consultant to complete the study, said Cox.


He praised McPeak for her willingness to work with the county, and offer alternatives they didn't know they had.


“She's just been really, really positive,” he said.


For more about the California Emerging Technology Fund visit their Web site, www.cetfund.org.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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