RCRA’s initial broadband project was a supply/demand study in partnership with the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) and Humboldt State University (HSU) called Redwood Coast Connect (RCC)). One of the outcomes of the RCC report was the identification of significant missing “middle mile” connections (“middle mile” is defined as the connection between the big broadband fiber infrastructure that runs along Highway 5 here in Northern California to drop off points or network nodes from which communities can connect to—the-connection. Transport between the distribution switches and individual homes and businesses is referred to as “last mile”). Without additional “middle mile” connections many communities cannot get adequate service. Digital Redwoods project is in the process of developing a broadband deployment, demand and adoption strategy to enable all least served communities to gain access, improving the quality of life in our remote rural communities.

In January 2009, the Obama administration proposed significant funding for broadband infrastructure as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) which was passed in February 2009 allocating approximately $7.2 billion. These new federal funding sources represent a significant pool of funds for infrastructure focused on unserved and underserved communities and promise to pay 80% of the capital cost of infrastructure. The ARRA broadband funding is focused on public/private partnerships and the benefits of projects in terms of jobs created, health care delivery, education and public safety.

Digital Redwoods is a collaborative regional effort designed primarily to serve the public good.

Digital Redwoods is convening open, transparent governance to identify local objectives (public needs and interests) that can be accomplished through projects like HCAN proposed for ARRA funding program NTIA/RUS. Projects being proposed for the region are coming from private and community interests as well as public, tribal and non-profit sector organizations.

Access Humboldt is advancing Digital Redwoods on behalf of public, education and government sectors to work with private partners to get the best community outcomes for the region. Regional plans for deployment, demand creation and adoption will help to form a coherent design and an open process to coordinate partners for ARRA broadband infrastructure funding proposals and related regional broadband efforts over time.