Cruzio Receives Grant to Provide
Free Broadband to San Jerardo Co-Op
At its September 9 meeting, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved grant funding in the amount of $292,548 from the California Advanced Services Fund Line Extension Program to Cruzio Media, Inc. to build internet infrastructure for the San Jerardo Housing Cooperative in Monterey County.
This grant application was developed in partnership with the Central Coast Broadband Consortium (CCBC) and Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP) and is the first extension of Cruzio’s Equal Access program to Monterey County. Collaboration with the County of Monterey, particularly strong support from Supervisor Christopher Lopez, was also essential in bringing this grant to fruition. Equal Access Santa Cruz was started by Cruzio in 2020 with help from Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, Pajaro Valley Unified School District, and key community donors like Driscoll’s and the Watsonville Rotary. The initiative focused on implementing long-term solutions to provide affordable broadband access and has successfully connected hundreds of in-need families including the Buena Vista Housing Camp in Watsonville, providing high-speed internet service to 143 households at no cost for the first three years.
The Equal Access model is simple – bridge the digital divide with modern infrastructure and make it economically accessible to the community it serves. It’s not enough to provide broadband at costs of $75-$100 a month or more. Connectivity is a necessity and should be provided to all regardless of income or socioeconomic status. For infrastructure projects that would not otherwise break-even for ISPs, MBEP worked with the CPUC to secure this grant funding, and with the Community Foundation for Monterey County to set up an Equal Access charitable fund to supplement the costs of buildout and service for low-income communities. San Jerardo Co-op is the first such project in Monterey County.
The San Jerardo housing cooperative was built by farmworkers in the 1970s. Many of the 250 permanent residents, and up to 100 seasonal residents, are low income and face innumerable challenges. San Jerardo will receive free internet service at 100 Mbps speeds (downstream and upstream) with the capacity to increase speeds in the future as equipment continues to advance, providing crucial connectivity for residents and school-aged children during emergencies and natural disasters.
Horacio Amezquita, General Manager at San Jerardo said, “Communities like San Jerardo need to have affordable and reliable internet access for the well-being of present and future generations.”
MBEP, in partnership with the CCBC, collaborates with local governments, County Offices of Education, school districts, and residents to identify projects that may be eligible for Equal Access. “For nearly four years MBEP has been highly focused on bringing ubiquitous broadband to the Monterey Bay region,” said Kate Roberts, MBEP’s president and CEO. “The pandemic has made this more urgent. We are pleased to partner with ISPs, counties, and others to make affordable internet service a reality for those who are most in need.”
After the grant approval in the CPUC meeting, Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves said, “A year ago, national attention turned to Salinas due to the two girls in front of the Taco Bell. The local leadership and the community really came together, not just for San Jerardo but for other children, in recognition that hotspots weren’t working for everyone. There are many communities like San Jerardo that we have been finding as being digitally redlined, and they’re usually brown or black. We are now being proactive in our communities in finding a solution with all of our partners on the ground to help these underserved areas.”
Cruzio Director of Business Operations and Development James Hackett says they will use a cutting-edge hybrid of fiberoptic and fixed wireless technologies to serve the community.
“We’re delighted to be extending Equal Access into Monterey County and there could be no better place to start than at San Jerardo,” said Hackett. “This is just the type of community Equal Access and CASF are designed to help and we can’t wait to do more.”
To donate to the Equal Access Monterey Bay fund, please contact Freny Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monterey Bay Economic Partnership (MBEP) is a regional nonprofit member-supported organization consisting of public, private, and civic entities located throughout the counties of Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz. MBEP’s mission is to improve the economic health and quality of life in the region. www.mbep.biz.
Founded in 1989, Cruzio is one of the largest independent internet service providers in California providing cutting-edge technology services for more than 9,000 households and businesses on the Central Coast. www.cruzio.com.
The Central Coast Broadband Consortium (CCBC) was established in 1996 to promote the expansion and improvement of broadband deployment, access, and adoption throughout the Monterey Bay region. We believe that broadband, or high-speed Internet, is an essential tool for success in today’s economy, enabling businesses, educational institutions, and healthcare providers to offer services to all residents in the region.
Ph. (831)459-6301 x288