(CTN News) – Comcast and AT&T have filed a complaint to block the use of $14 million in state funds to improve Oakland’s high-speed internet. They argue that there is already enough broadband infrastructure in place, but both city data and user experiences contradict this claim.
Alameda County has received a significant amount of funding, totaling $24.5 billion, for improving “last mile” broadband connectivity. Out of this, $14 million has been specifically designated for Oakland.
Despite the assertions made by Comcast and AT&T,
Schools and students in East Oakland have reported slow internet speeds, frozen screens, and lagging video during speed tests. These issues directly contradict the fast internet speeds that the companies advertise, as reported by The Mercury News.
Earlier this year, California officials approved the allocation of billions of dollars to address gaps in broadband coverage throughout the state. Oakland was one of the areas selected for funding through the Oakland Connect initiative.
However, plans to expand the infrastructure were reversed due to flawed data-driven maps, as acknowledged by officials in emails to Comcast The Mercury News.
California is actively working to connect underfunded communities through FFA grant programs. These programs provide funding to companies to expand broadband infrastructure and offer internet access to remote, rural, and urban communities with limited connectivity.
However, according to city official Patrick Messac in an interview with The Mercury News, some areas that are in dire need of funding are not receiving it. Messac stated that the funding is being directed towards deployment in affluent areas where there is little to no oversight.
Digital equity experts contend that Comcast Oakland’s funding has experienced an imbalanced reduction, mirroring a discriminatory practice referred to as “redlining.”
This situation arises due to the inadequate number of subscribers in the region, which hampers service providers from generating profits.
Oakland’s technology chief, Tony Batalla, highlighted that the maps used to determine Comcast funding rely heavily on data provided by internet service providers (ISPs), which fails to consider factors such as service affordability and income levels.
Consequently, the digital divide portrayed by these maps does not accurately reflect the reality on the ground, particularly in urban areas.