Skip to main content

Bridging the Digital Divide with DEVFA

For immediate release:

Sacramento, CA – Today, Assemblymember Chris Holden’s AB 2748, Telecommunications: Digital Equity in Video Franchising Act (DEVFA) of 2022 passed the Assembly Committee on Communications and Conveyance. The bill would update the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act (DIVCA) of 2006, to directly address modern issues with broadband connectivity, subscriber discrimination by telecommunications providers, and other digital equity barriers.

DIVCA originally passed with the intention of increasing competition in the cable market to decrease the cost of service for consumers and promote the build out of video and cable service.

“Regardless of zip code and community demographics – urban and rural, all Californians deserve equitable and affordable access to high-speed internet,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden. “The pandemic highlighted many key disparities for communities globally, and in California the digital divide was clear. I acknowledge and appreciate the work that took place to craft DIVCA 17 years ago, but we must rapidly provide solutions that meet the present needs of all Californians.”

This bill would leverage the state’s licensing authority over cable companies, who are among the largest internet service providers in the state, by obligating them to serve the public under the highest standards and in a manner that ensures equal access to service.

 “Assemblymember Holden's AB 2748 addresses remaining affordability, equity and access gaps in California broadband policy. Last year, our state invested a historic $6B to build broadband infrastructure. This year, AB 2748 focuses on increasing access to this infrastructure by reforming franchising laws and strengthening policies that will help connect California communities that have long been unserved and disconnected from the digital resources they need,” said Arnold Sowell Jr., Executive Director of NextGen California.

"Although DIVCA originally intended to address inequitable broadband access, it remains pronounced across California cities," says Shayna Englin, Director of the California Community Foundation Digital Equity Initiative. "AB 2748 modernizes DIVCA by establishing equal access requirements as policy, and makes them enforceable through a reasonable application process for franchise renewals. We are pleased to co-sponsor Assemblymember Holden's bill, as the legislation will bring us one step closer to ensuring every Californian has access to fast, reliable, and affordable internet."

 “Common Sense applauds Assemblymember Holden for bringing this important piece of legislation forward, which will protect consumers from digital discrimination and redlining practices that have no place in California. It is a critical step at a time when a family's ability to thrive in our fast changing society is directly tied to their ability to access dependable and affordable high speed internet at home,” says Jim Steyer, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Common Sense.

This legislation builds upon the federal Digital Equity Act, passed as part of President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as well as previous efforts in the state legislature to strengthen the state’s oversight of cable companies. It would adopt the definition of Digital Discrimination used in Federal policy as well as grant the California Public Utilities Commission with the same authority they would have under federal law to enforce the build out of video and cable infrastructure.