The California legislature unanimously approved a plan to build a statewide, open-access fiber network yesterday. The legislation was supported by Democrats and Republicans in votes of 78-0 in the California Assembly and 39-0 in the state Senate.
The statewide, open-access fiber lines will function as a “middle-mile” network that carries data from Internet backbone networks to connection points in cities and rural areas. A middle-mile network doesn’t extend all the way to residential properties, but “last-mile” ISPs can get access to it and focus on building infrastructure that connects the middle mile to homes.
California’s decision to make the middle-mile network open-access means it will provide “non-discriminatory access to eligible entities on a technology and competitively neutral basis, regardless of whether the entity is privately or publicly owned,” the bill text said. If all goes as planned, the network will make it easier for existing ISPs to expand and for new ISPs to get started, filling in gaps where there’s no modern access and boosting competition and speeds in other areas. Last-mile ISPs could use network technology other than fiber to connect to homes because of the provision allowing technology-neutral access.