By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a $6 billion bill to expand access to high-speed internet across California.

The historic legislation will expand the state’s broadband infrastructure, prioritizing unserved and underserved areas by spending $3.25 billion on a state-owned network equipped with high-capacity fiber lines that can carry large amounts of data over long distances; $2 billion to connect homes and business with local networks and enable tribes and local governments to access this funding; and $750 million for local governments and nonprofits to secure financing for broadband infrastructure.

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The bill also creates a broadband czar position at the state’s Department of Technology, and a broadband advisory committee with representatives from across state government.

“This $6 billion investment will make broadband more accessible than ever before, expanding opportunity across the spectrum for students, families and businesses – from enhanced educational supports to job opportunities to health care and other essential services,” Newsom said in a statement.

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The need for widespread and affordable broadband internet access was laid bare last year when schools and workplaces were abruptly shut down to slow the spread of coronavirus, leaving students and employees to work from home, many from weak cell phone data signals. The state was forced to quickly mobilize the tech industry to help with distance learning in school districts all across the state – many of which had scant access to high-speed internet and computing devices.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation hailed the legislation as a “revolution” that would allow Californians to “choose their broadband destiny.”

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“This is an essential first step toward reaching near universal fiber access, because it was never ever going to happen through the large private (Internet Service Providers) who are tethered to fast profits and short term investor expectations that prevent them from pursuing universal fiber access,” The EFF said in a statement.