Why is this Project needed? The Central Valley is one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions. On less than 1 percent of the total farmland in the United States, the Central Valley produces 8 percent of the nation’s agricultural output by value: US$17 billion in 2002 alone. And yet, with all this abundance, close to 57% of the Valley is classified as either unserved or underserved by broadband infrastructure.
With a per capita income in 2007 of $29,790, 29% below the state average, a labor force growing faster than job growth with unemployment rates from 2002 to 2008 averaging 2.6% higher than the state average and wages in the region in every industry being lower than the state average, now, more than ever, this region requires the tools, resources and potential job growth a robust network infrastructure built throughout the region could provide.
The compelling infrastructure problem is multifaceted:
- Lack of availability — 49% of the households and 15% of the communities do not have broadband.
- Lack of access — 285 communities do not have access.
- Lack of bandwidth — Only 20% of the users have more than a 10Mb/s connection.
- Too costly to the user — Cost to user is most often distance-sensitive.
- Lack of cohesiveness — There is no middle mile fiber-based infrastructure linking these counties together and to the larger worldwide Internet.
These facts, coupled with the recent FCC National Broadband Plan calling for affordable access at 100Mb/s download and 50Mb/s upload for a 100 million homes, strongly suggest that this region would benefit from the tools, resources and potential job growth a fiber-based infrastructure could provide.
What are the major benefits to be derived from this Project? Implementation of this project is intended to have the following results:
- Enhance students’ access to leading edge learning resources and on-line programs that will help develop their knowledge, understanding, and skills necessary to compete and enjoy living in a global community;
- Provide faculty and staff access to technology tools and solutions that can improve the quality of teaching and achieve administrative economies of scale and cost savings;
- Improve citizens’ access to library resources in the county and regional library systems as well as on the web;
- Improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of the current administrative systems shared among the county and main libraries in the region and open up other collaborative opportunities;
- Improve current communication systems of certain public safety entities within the region;
- Improve coordination of care among hospitals, clinics, skilled nursing facilities, home care agencies, pharmacies, physicians, and other health professionals as well as provide consumers with their own health information to encourage greater participation in their health care decisions; and
- Address the lack of broadband availability to homes, businesses, and government.
How are CVIN and CENIC qualified to implement this Project? CVIN LLC (Central Valley Independent Network) and the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC) form a very strong private-public partnership to undertake this Project.
CVIN was formed in 1995, and is a joint enterprise comprised of affiliates of several independent telephone companies, including Sebastian, Ponderosa, Sierra, Calaveras, Volcano, Ducor, Cal-Ore, and Siskiyou. They serve territories covering over 7,000 square miles of this region providing over 63,000 access lines and 1700 miles of fiber. They are experienced in providing broadband services and several have been in business over 100 years
CENIC, a 501c3 founded in 1997, has five members: UC System, CSU System, California Community Colleges, K-12 System, and the private universities (USC, Stanford, Caltech). CENIC provides these members advanced networking serving nearly 10 million users. CENIC currently owns and operates CalREN, a network consisting of over 2,900 miles of CENIC owned-and-operated fiber extending from the Mexican border to Corning and San Diego into Arizona, plus over 300 managed circuits leased from telecommunications carriers. Today, CENIC is a major player in both the national and international networking arenas and manages the largest and most robust statewide optical network for education in the nation.
Both CVIN and CENIC are organizations that are very experienced in installing, operating, and managing fiber-optic networks. The management and technical leaders of both companies are individuals each with over 30 years of experience and share the philosophy of providing robust, cost-effective, state-of-the-art communication networks while working with their clients to ensure quality services that add value.
When will the NTIA makes its decision known? All the funds associated with the NTIA Broadband Technology Opportunities Program are to be awarded by September 30, 2010. On August 20, 2010, we were informed that CVNGBIP had been funded. We will keep all involved parties informed as to further developments.
If awarded, how long will it take CVIN and CENIC to implement the Project? The implementation plan for the project estimates completion within 30 months of an award. As segments of the infrastructure are completed, services will be offered.
How will CVIN and CENIC serve their respective members/clients in these counties after implementation? The project provides for two separate routed IP networks to be installed. CENIC will be responsible for managing one with dedicated point-to-point connections between anchor education, library, and certain public health sites and the existing CENIC backbone network.
CVIN will be responsible for managing and operating the other, serving their last-mile customers as well as other wireless Internet service providers (“WISP” and/or Internet service providers (ISP) interconnection points by providing connectivity to major international ISP backhaul networks.
The fixed wireless infrastructure is expected to be fully operational by the end of the second year. Then, CVIN will begin to offer services.
What involvement will the local entities have in the ongoing planning? CVIN/CENIC have already and will continue to involve other stakeholders in the project as it progresses.
Through CENIC and its current members, the anchor institutions associated with K-12 and community colleges will be involved in the details of getting their sites connected. Once operational, CENIC has in place procedures these sites already use. Likewise, CENIC will continue to work with the libraries through the San Joaquin Valley Library System and Mountain Valley Library System groups, as well as the State Librarian to ensure their proper connectivity and ongoing service support.
CVIN/CENIC has and will continue to engage the Northern Planning Area of California (NPAC) and the Central Planning Area of California (CPAC) groups, under California’s Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee (CalSIEC), in developing an Emergency Services Network that can utilize this infrastructure and the CENIC statewide backbone to interconnect certain Public Safety Answering Points located throughout the region. CVIN/CENIC also will continue conversations with the State Office of Emergency Services about their role in establishing a statewide Emergency Services Network.
CENIC, on behalf of CVIN/CENIC, has had ongoing exchanges with the California Telehealth Network (CTN) representatives. Since over 30 anchor health facilities in this region are already committed to use CTN for the next three years, we are pursuing the remaining 2000 health facilities in the region CTN cannot accommodate. However, discussions will commence after the BTOP award to determine what might be possible when the three year pilot program for CTN ends.
Once the decision was made to pursue a BTOP grant, CVIN/CENIC sent representatives to 14 of the 18 counties (purposely we did not go to the four counties where there was to be an overlapping proposal). We intend to visit these four counties early in April to inform them of the two projects and to seek their support.
At the time of this submission, all 14 Boards of Supervisors have approved a “letter of support” for this project. During our visits to the counties we met several community leaders. We made a commitment to return to each county after the submission. We plan to visit all 18 counties again in April for three purposes: a) informing them about the details of what we submitted, b) begin dialogue as to what and how this infrastructure can best serve county government, local businesses, and residences, and c) determine how best to structure to ensure their continued involvement.
Are any plans being made to provide computers for members of the community or organizations who will be served by this Project? There are three projects which, if funded, could complement our project. California Connects (#6303) will develop an open-source online digital literacy training tool that can be utilized at public libraries and other computing centers across the state with specific focus in the Central Valley region, targeting and providing learning support to low-income, Latino residents — populations that currently have low adoption rates within the state; California Telehealth Network (CTN) eHealth Broadband Adoption (#4871) will support sustainability of California’s FCC-funded CTN, enable widespread use of broadband applications by delivering multi-faceted training in partnership with libraries, community colleges, and health organizations, and establish best practice Model eHealth Communities to demonstrate how to transition to technology-enabled health delivery; and Free2 Connect 4 Success (#4387) will expand the public library computer access centers in 136 libraries statewide by providing much needed desktop workstations and laptops, 24/7 wireless access, new or upgraded wireless routers, and staff to help users access library resources.
If funded, these projects will provide individuals — especially new Internet adopters — the programming, hardware, and training to effectively utilize the infrastructure we will install. This will also help personnel in the various anchor institutions including health-care facilities, public libraries, and schools that will be utilizing our infrastructure.
Are there any complementary projects seeking funding, and what interaction has this Project had with them if so? Four CCI projects focus on providing wireless infrastructure in specific counties: #4464 (Amador, Alpine, Calaveras and Tuolumne), #6145 (Nevada), #6078 (San Joaquin), and #7160 (Mother Lode). If funded, each could provide connectivity between individual schools, health care facilities, businesses, and residences in these counties and our middle mile infrastructure.