Thursday, April 26, 2007

Schwarzenegger questioned on how telemedicine funding will expand broadband access

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger received some skeptical questioning from a broadband deprived area of the state at a telemedicine demonstration project held last week in Eureka.

A questioner asked how $200 million earmarked for telemedicine under Proposition 1D, the school construction bond approved by voters last November, would help expand broadband access in Humboldt County. The questioner pointed out the county lacks a University of California campus, implying none of that $200 million would go to expanding broadband in that Northern California county:

Q: In order for something like telemedicine to work effectively, Humboldt County has to have a reliable broadband system, which we do not. What will the broadband initiative do to help us achieve a reliable system? Is the state going to be providing funding for that, or is it essentially going to be removing road blocks, as they say, to allow businesses (Inaudible)

GOVERNOR: Well, both. First of all, with my executive order we eliminated road blocks that were there, because we want to go and build and facilitate every town, every village in California as quickly as possible. That is the idea. So it’s a combination with the private sector and the public sector. That’s why we put the 200 million dollars in there, so that when they start building and increasing the facilities, university facilities. We are saying lets not just build buildings, let us also bring in technology, the latest technology. And so that’s what the 200 million dollars is all for.

Q: But we don’t have a university (Inaudible)

GOVERNOR: No, no, but I mean so that the private sector will pick it up and then take it to the various different places. So thank you very much. Thank you, everyone, for being here. (Applause)

It bears watching closely how much of the $200 million Schwarzenegger says will ostensibly be granted to private sector telecom vendors results in greater broadband availability in Humboldt County and other areas of California mired on the dark side of the digital divide.

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