Sometimes called the “fourth utility”, broadband is critical 21st
Century infrastructure, and the growth, effectiveness and innovation in Northern
Santa Barbara County are not able to be maximized due to the area’s broadband
A recent analysis of statewide broadband (“California
Broadband Infrastructure Report Card”, March 2020, Tellus Venture Association, see link in "Links and References")
gave Santa Barbara County a D-, meaning that there is only one wireline
provider offering (not necessarily even in all areas) broadband speeds of 100
Mbps down/20 Mbps up. More recent figures may show some slight
improvement, but the fact is that in 2021, there are still areas either
un-served or severely under-served by broadband.
EconAlliance serves as the northern Santa
Barbara County liaison to the tri-county Broadband Consortium Pacific Coast
(BCPC), providing outreach, education, advocacy and support for the enhancement
of broadband in the area. This is done through policymaker visits, forums,
webinars, research, and advocacy. In 2020, EconAlliance and BCPC’s Santa
Barbara County broadband chair Chris Chirgwin and EconAlliance developed a
concept to enhance accessibility, redundancy and resiliency of broadband. This
concept, the Northern Santa Barbara County Fiber Ring Network (see link in "Links and References"), has since guided
EconAlliance broadband enhancement activities.
Key Current Broadband Activities
Advocacy and other efforts
supporting accelerated development of the Northern Santa Barbara County Fiber
Ring Network, a middle-mile infrastructure element envisioned as enhancing
broadband access for North County communities, industries, anchor institutions
and key assets. EconAlliance is supporting partnerships, exploring funding
potential, writing and co-writing grants, and socializing the Fiber Ring
concept. Part of this effort involves developing and maintaining a preliminary
broadband strategy for North County.
Supporting Vandenberg IT team’s broadband
enhancement. In March, 2021, Vandenberg Air Force Base changed its name to
Vandenberg Space Force Base, setting the stage for the Base’s new vision as a
“Spaceport of the Future”. To foster spaceport readiness, a major upgrade in
connectivity was required and in 2020, EconAlliance and BCPC assisted the Base
IT team with market research around broadband improvements – hosting a
broadband provider/Base IT team “meet and greet”, and identifying potential
providers to meet Vandenberg’s unique needs.
In 2020, EconAlliance, the Santa Ynez Band of
Chumash and BCPC co-wrote a successful tribal grant to the US Department of the
Interior to develop a Tribal broadband strategy for linking traditional Chumash
lands to new Trust lands. Partners are now implementing.
In 2021, EconAlliance is beginning a broadband
needs assessment for North County. Pacific Premier Bank is supporting this
important effort with partial funding of the assessment.