California Connects leverages $10.9 million BTOP grant to bring broadband to 61,000 people

California Connections, a program that's funded through a $10.9 million grant from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) administered by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), plans to make sure that 61,000 residents will be able to get a broadband connection.

Designed to provide training and outreach to expand broadband Internet usage to communities that have limited access options, California Connections' main target is the Central Valley area where the majority of area residents aren't using the Internet.

Like other community-led broadband efforts, California Connects is touting the idea of how broadband can help improve a student's learning experience and other resident's daily life activities.

"Broadband access will increase residents' access to services and resources in areas such as finances, health care, and social services, as well as provide an avenue for maintaining family and community ties online," said Paul Lanning, Foundation for California Community Colleges President in a Central Valley Business Times article.

A big focus of the new program is Web usage training through 5,800 community college volunteers. These students have been equipped with laptops, training, and access to on-campus certification exams in exchange for teaching other residents who may not be familiar with using the Internet to conduct simple tasks as job hunting, looking at college education opportunities, accessing health care and financial resources in addition to learning how to use social network sites such as Facebook to engage with other members in the community.

For more:
- Central Valley Business Times has this article

Related articles:
House cuts $302 million from BTOP program
Government awards $795 million in broadband stimulus' second round
Broadband stimulus: An enabler, not a panacea
Middle mile providers: Complementary, not competitive

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