Yolo County Community Broadband Equity Conversation
During our December 2020 policy discussion we crafted our broadband equity definition:
Equal access to broadband internet at an affordable rate for all members of the community to be able to meet their needs for work, school, and entertainment, regardless of demographics, geography, or socioeconomic status.
If this is an outcome that you would like to see, please join us on the path to achieving it. We started this journey in August of 2020 and continue with bimonthly sessions with the goal of generating a consensus for action. Each session begins with brief presentations by topic experts and leads to a conversation with the community about what to do about what we discussed. Our prior sessions are summarized below with links to the video for each. We look forward to having you join the sessions this year so you can share your ideas, questions, and observations.
All sessions are scheduled from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM
- Apr 14: Impacts of broadband in education
- Jun 9: Rural broadband with an emphasis on agriculture impacts
- Aug 11: Lessons learned in other communities
- Oct 13: Broadband availability, reliability & uptime (quality of service)
- Dec 8: Broadband policies that impact equity (legislative, regulatory)
Session 1 (Aug 2020): Background
Collaborating with Valley Vision, the Woodland Technology Alliance began an effort to promote broadband access and capacity in Yolo County in August 2020. The recording of the introductory conversation is here and the summary is here. During the first virtual meeting, we laid a foundation about the status of broadband in Yolo County. Notably:
- broadband availability to Yolo County residents is rated at 96%
- installation of broadband services varies highly, from as few as 40% of households in one part of Yolo County (north) having broadband in their home to over 80% of households having broadband in another (central), suggesting an affordability barrier
- household broadband speed can be inadequate for remote access to work and school
- the County of Yolo has explored new models to deploy broadband
- the Woodland Joint Unified School District has made hot spots available to all students on free and reduced lunch
- two regional coalitions support expanding access to broadband: Connected Capital Area Broadband Consortium (CCABC) and Sacramento Coalition for Digital Inclusion (SCDI)
- webinar participants indicated that:
- 4 of 5 paid more than $50 monthly for service that often transmitted well below advertised speed
- follow up meetings should be bi-monthly to move the community conversation toward 100% access.
Session 2 (Oct 2020): Speed
Watch the video recording:
Our second session in the conversation focused on broadband speed. After introductions by Dr. Larry Ozeran (WTA) and David Espinoza (Valley Vision), David presented a tutorial about the California State Broadband map. The tool allows you to assess the broadband landscape in California, locally, regionally or statewide. You can use the layers of the mapping tool (Broadband Adoption, Broadband Deployment, Broadband Grants, CalSPEED & Public Feedback, Community Anchor Institutions & Political Boundaries) in different combinations to create very personalized maps to meet your specific needs. David demonstrated how to select criteria in the different tool layers to easily visualize the distribution of broadband adoption with a focus on Yolo County.
Question 1 asked how frequently the map was updated by the state: annually, but some data, like the census and geography of legislative districts, change less often, explaining why some data was last updated in 2011.
Unserved was defined as having no service in the area. It might include areas that have internet service, but the speed of that service is too slow to meet the minimum broadband definition (1 Mbps upload, 6 Mbps download). David discussed the CASF grant funds and how to find areas where the funds were used.
Question 2 asked how we get outage data made public. David did not have a definitive answer but postulated that the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are allowed to keep this data confidential as their proprietary property. We will bring this question back for the policy conversation in December.
David demonstrated how to use the map to find specific ISPs. It is possible to identify which ISPs serve which specific addresses and at what speed. David expressed his gratitude to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Mapping Division and the CSU Chico Geographical Information Center for making this tool available to the public.
Question 3 was about the lack of a chromebook version of the CalSPEED application. It emphasized the question of equity we are seeking in this process. It will also return during our policy discussion in December.
Larry then shared the change in the definition of broadband over time. The most recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) standard defined in 2015 being 3 Mbps upload, 25 Mbps download. He then assisted the audience estimate how much broadband speed they need to meet their local need at home and for business.
David then demonstrated how to use CalSPEED to determine the broadband speed each member of the audience actually had and how to report that speed to the PUC. Participants were ecouraged to share their speed and the speed they had been promised by their ISP with WTA.
During the final segment of the webinar, the audience was asked to share their stories. We heard about:
- 300 Mbps ISP promised speed measured at far less having no impact on video, but leading to some audio latency,
- 25 Mbps being the fastest an ISP would offer because the cost to increase the number of line pairs (to increase maximum speed) is too high,
- lack of capacity in the community forces some families to go without real time video during school in order not to get kicked off of a cell tower connection, and
- lack of high speed broadband on one side of Main Street in Woodland even though it is on the other side.
Question 4 was about how to update inaccurate information in the CalSPEED map. David demonstrated how.
We closed by encouraging the participants to think about how they define "broadband equity", what topics to discuss in 2021, and whether the time for the series needed to change to enable more members of the community to participate.
Session 3 (Dec 2020): Policy
Watch the video recording:
This session focused on federal, state, county, and city policy that impacts the equitable availability of broadband to all members of the Yolo County community.
- How you (the participants) define equity
- Current Federal, State, County and City policy
- Current activity seeking to change broadband policy
- Discussion about what needs to change to achieve equity
- Schedule for 2021 - topics, dates, time
PanelistsWe were pleased to have representatives of:
- California Congressional District 3 - Aaron Latta (staff for Congressman Garamendi),
- California Assembly District 4 - Samantha Samuelson (staff for Assembly Member Aguiar-Curry),
- Yolo County - Tara Thronson (staff for Supervisor Don Saylor), and
- City of Woodland - Tom Stallard (Mayor pro tem).
|Aaron Latta is a District Representative and Constituent Services Specialist for Congressman John Garamendi based out of the Congressman’s Davis District Office. He is a California native and a recent graduate from University of California Davis with a degree in Political Science. Currently, Aaron is responsible for infrastructure, small business, environmental, health and tax issues within the district for Congressman Garamendi.|
Samantha Samuelsen, Legislative-Aide for Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry is a graduate of the University of California, Davis with degrees in both Political Science and Gender & Women’s Studies. Presently, her work focuses on the issue areas of Communications and Conveyance, Utilities and Energy, and Natural Resources. Samantha grew up in San Carlos, California and currently serves as Communications Director of the Asian Pacific Islander Capitol Association (APICA), a non-profit dedicated to uplifting the API community.|
Click here for AB 14 Fact Sheet to promote Internet for All.
|Tara Thronson serves as Deputy to Supervisor Don Saylor in Yolo County District 2 and as a member of the Yolo County Broadband Task Force. Tara was formerly a Project Leader at Valley Vision, and helped cultivate and manage the Connected Capital Area Broadband Consortium. Through her current role in Yolo County she continues to serve as a “broadband evangelist,” spreading the word about the positive economic and social equity impacts that will result from closing the Digital Divide.|
|Tom Stallard is currently Mayor pro tem of the City of Woodland and has served on the city council for 10 years. He is a Director of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments and Board Member of the Yolo Solano Air Quality Management District, Woodland Davis Clean Water Agency, and Valley Clean Energy, among others.|
Session 4 (Feb 2021): Metrics of Equity
Watch the video recording:
This session focused on how we measure equity in broadband. What measures tell us how close we are now, what progress are we making, and how we know when we achieve it for all members of the Yolo County community?
- Why discuss metrics
- Metrics of Equity
- National context
- Community discussion about equity - what measures should we use? what barriers might limit access to the data?
PanelistsWe were pleased to have Sabrina Roach, Manager of Strategic Engagement with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance and John B. Horrigan, PhD, Senior Fellow at the Technology Policy Institute.
|Sabrina Roach brings more than two decades of organizing for a media and technology ecosystem that serves all of us. She likes to work collaboratively and focus on peer and emerging leader development. She’s spent seven years in a mix of regional and national board roles with the Alliance for Community Media (Public Access, Education, and Government TV), and seven years directing public media and tech advocacy at Brown Paper Tickets where she helped new Low Power FM radio stations to get on the air and become relevant in their neighborhoods.|
John B. Horrigan, PhD
|John B. Horrigan, PhD is Senior Fellow at the Technology Policy Institute, with a focus on technology adoption and digital inclusion. Additionally, he has served as an Associate Director for Research at the Pew Research Center, where he focused on libraries and their impact on communities. During the Obama Administration, Horrigan was part of the leadership team at the Federal Communications Commission for the development of the National Broadband Plan.|
Session 4 (Apr 2021): Broadband Equity in Education
Watch the video recording:
In this session we discussed how our local systems of education have been impacted by the lack of equity in delivery of broadband and steps they are taking to assist students have their needs met.
- The state of broadband usage in education pre-Covid
- Impacts of Covid on broadband needs in education
- Challenges in ensuring every student has access to adequate broadband
- Community discussion
PanelistsWe were pleased to be joined by Garth Lewis, Superintendent of Schools for Yolo County, Carl Fahle, Director of Information Technology for the Yolo County Office of Education, Tina Burkhart, Director of Technology Services for the Woodland Joint Unified School District, and Devin Crosby, Chief Technology Officer for the Yuba Community College District.
|Garth Lewis serves as the Superintendent of Schools for Yolo County. He was elected to this position in 2018. Over the course of his two-decade career in K-12 education, Superintendent Lewis has served as a para-educator, teacher, site and district administrator, and assistant superintendent. His collaborative work supports each of the five Yolo school districts and other key agencies that serve youth and families throughout Yolo County. He believes access to a high-quality public education is a significant factor in improving life outcomes for all children.|
|Carl Fahle is the Director of Information Technology for the Yolo County Office of Education. He is an experienced technology and educational services executive, software developer, and instructional leader with a background in primary/secondary education. He is skilled in complex IT systems management and instructional technology integration. Prior to working in Yolo County, he previously worked in IT director roles for the South San Francisco and San Juan Unified school districts.|
|...||Tina Burkhart is Director of Technology Services for the Woodland Joint Unified School District During the past 20+ years, Tina has worked with Vallejo, Davis, and Woodland school districts to implement technology services to support our children as they master the skills needed for a life full of possibility and change.|
This is an ongoing conversation. We want all members of the Yolo County community to participate.
To receive notice of upcoming meetings to advance this conversation, please contact us.