2023 Q1 Status Update

Posted on March 31, 2023

Activities continue to implement the Strategic Plan, set up an operational entity, and seek funding. Since the last status update, the County and City of San Rafael entered into contracts with a consultant to implement the work plans in their Local Area Technical Assistance (LATA) Grants.


Notable Accomplishments and Updates

  • Goal 1: High-quality broadband is available to everyone in Marin.
    • Strategy 1: Assist with the deployment of universally accessible public and public/private broadband services throughout Marin
      • California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) Local Area Technical Assistance (LATA) grants
        • Marin County: $500,000
          • Five areas: Marin City, and the unincorporated areas of coastal Marin, Novato/surrounding area, southern Marin, and Gallinas Valley/San Pedro.
          • Contract with EntryPoint Networks approved by Board on April 25th
          • Bruce Vogen is the project coordinator
          • Working with San Rafael to sequence and coordinate projects
        • San Rafael: $258,000 focusing on the Canal area
          • Contract with EntryPoint Networks approved by City Council on April 18th
        • Tiburon: $191,000 to begin implementation of the town’s Broadband Plan
          • Working with contractor to create a fiber backbone
          • Once the fiber backbone is in place, Digital Marin wants to ensure that the last mile approach not be with a single internet service provider such as AT&T or Comcast. Instead recommending an open access model to allow for multiple providers and more control over affordability, quality, and access.
        • Sausalito: $500,000 submitted in February; still in review
      • Challenge to accuracy of FCC broadband availability maps regarding Frontier’s fiber availability in Novato was upheld. Frontier removed inaccurate data, significantly reducing the number of residential properties identified as being served by fiber.
      • Met with Caltrans and California Department of Technology (CDT) to review their efforts for District 4’s Middle Mile Fiber Network build out with a focus on the fiber network along Highway 1. Request for detailed time line for completion of work in Marin and Sonoma counties is pending.
      • Worked with North Bay/North Coast Broadband Consortium (NBNCBC) representatives from Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma to assist the State with conducting one of twenty state-wide meetings in the Santa Rosa area on Friday, April 28th. The meetings are in response to the State’s requirement to include local agencies and communities in developing California’s Digital Equity Plan. The Plan will allow the State to receive federal funding for digital equity projects and sub-grant those funds to local agencies. Digital Marin is also participating in planning work groups to ensure our communities’ needs are considered and prepare to submit a grant request for digital equity activities.
      • Reviewed recently released broadband priority areas map for Marin County. The maps will be used for federal funding account grants to eligible entities to construct last mile projects to provide unserved Californians with affordable and reliable broadband service. The priority areas are predefined, assumed eligible areas where entities could apply for broadband infrastructure grants. While we anticipated five areas would be designated as priority areas, only three were designated as priority areas. The County has the ability to challenge the designation later this year and the opportunity to request grants for areas other than those shown.
    • Strategy 3: Increase access to affordable broadband service.
      • The Board approved allocation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the collaborative project to provide broadband connectivity, free internet service, devices, training, and support at five MHA housing sites for older adults and people with disabilities
        • First step is MCFL hiring project coordinator – pending
        • Using Oakland’s playbook for a similar project as our starting point
      • Transferred funds from the County’s ARPA funds to the Bolinas Stinson Union School District (BSUSD) for a collaborative effort with nonprofits, community members, and the County to complete a project bringing critical internet access, devices, and training to 50 families with school-aged children living full time in the BSUSD.
  • Goal 2: Everyone in Marin can take advantage of all online opportunities
    • Strategy 1: Coordinate and expand digital literacy training in Marin
      • As a result of working with Marin Academy, students developed recommendations for defining a standard level of digital literacy.
  • Goal 3: Marin has a high rate of digital adoption that benefits everyone
    • Strategy 1: Improve privacy, security, and digital accessibility across Marin
      • Launched Marin Security and Privacy Council (MSPC)
        • Membership Benefits: Free Services
        • Monthly security awareness newsletter.
        • Alert notifications regarding active cyber threats.
        • Document library with cybersecurity and digital privacy resources and templates.
        • Member engagement through meetings, committees, and events.
        • Participation in annual educational events for October Cybersecurity Awareness Month
      • 2022 Membership Statistics
        • 28 Member Agencies – 22 Public Sector and 6 Private Sector
        • Monthly Cybersecurity Newsletter Distribution of over 7,000
  • Goal 4: Marin has a community driven organization with a mission to deliver broadband for all
    • Strategy 1: Obtain funding and create an independent operating entity
      • Worked with Consultant to finalize their report and recommendations for a governance structure and operational model
        • Recommend continuing to incubate Digital Marin in IST, transition to a JPA or similar organizational structure, with a final goal of becoming equivalent to a utility
        • Recommend pursuing true open access with Marin being responsible for infrastructure and the network layer, with Internet Service Providers delivering internet services to have more control over affordability, quality, and access.
        • Recommend beginning with “proof of concept” projects in un- and under-served areas funded by the LATA grants to prepare for making grant applications for CASF, Federal Funding Account (FFA) last mile, or Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) funds for deployment


Upcoming Milestones

  • Circulate Governance and Business Model Report for Digital Marin. Seek approval and resources to move forward with recommendations.
  • Hire project coordinator and officially launch the MHA digital divide project.
  • Begin LATA grant projects in coordination with San Rafael

Key Issues, Risks, & Impediments

  • Risk – Ability to secure transitional funding and resources, specifically personnel, so that Digital Marin’s activities continue without disruption while sustainable funding is secured for ongoing operations.

Request for Action

  • We continue to seek adoptions by every city and town in Marin. Sample staff reports and resolutions are available.
    • Please contact LMassey@MarinCounty.org for more information, questions, and assistance.
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