Where are the un/underconnected neighborhoods in Oakland?
Oakland estimates 94,000 (21.7 percent) of its residents lack internet access, a result of basic availability issues and broadband service affordability issues. As of 2018, 24.2 percent of Oakland households (40,121) did not have home fixed broadband access of at least 25/3 Mbps, with 36 percent (14,619) of this group only connecting through cellular data plans and the remainder simply not connected at all. In a report released last year, the Greenlining Institute found a startling correlation between East Bay neighborhoods lacking broadband access and neighborhoods that had been redlined beginning in the 1930s.
Additionally, according to Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) data, there is a concentration of school-age children in the east and central areas of Oakland as well as portions of west Oakland that lack access to the internet. When the demographics of income, educational attainment, free and reduced lunch, English as a second language, and others are plotted, we find that a large percentage of these children live in areas that straddle the same regions in Oakland.
What assets can the City of Oakland provide, and where are they located?
The City intends to make several public assets available to ISP partners, including but not limited to City facilities and rooftops, fiber optics cabling, and vertical assets such street and traffic poles. Here is a google map that lists City assets including, Public Libraries, Parks & Rec Centers, Fire Stations, Schools, existing Oakland fiber, and future fiber developments.
What State Initiatives Are Happening?
In 2021, SB 156 was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom. SB 156 created the implementation plan for the broadband provisions of the 2021 budget package and included plans for a $3.25 billion statewide investment in the creation of open-access middle-mile broadband infrastructure. The California Department of Technology announced that four state highways in Oakland will be included for statewide broadband fiber infrastructure investments as a result of funding from SB 156. Segments of I-880, SR-185 (Int’l Boulevard), I-980, and I-580 will all be sites of investment in “middle-mile fiber”, which is the key to unlocking equitable access to high-speed broadband in Oakland’s most unconnected neighborhoods.
This investment by the State will not only make the City of Oakland’s fiber optic network more resilient and reliable, it will also become an open access asset that innovative last-mile providers will be able to access to drive down costs, and provide accessible service to currently underserved Oaklanders.