Solano County is on the "high tech" cutting edge, but to keep up with that reputation it must bridge gaps left by technology infrastructure.
Solano County, along with Contra Costa and Alameda counties, is in line waiting to be approved for funding from the California Public Utilities Commission, which is allocating $125 million to create two new programs, a revolving loan fund for capital infrastructure and the Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortia Account.

The account will provide grant funds to eligible consortia to cover the cost of deployment activities other than the capital costs of facilities.

The Solano County Economic Development Corporation is joining with the Contra Economic Partnership and the East Bay Economic Development Alliance to create the East Bay Broadband Consortium to receive that state funding.

"There is pretty terrific turnout of support for this broadband initiative," said Sandy Person, interim president of the Solano EDC. "I'm thrilled with how our community and private sector partners have stepped up to be involved in this consortia and help secure our innovative capacity."

Person put together support from Solano County in a very short amount of time to apply for the funding. The application was submitted last week.

"This is a plan for the whole county," she said and added that cities will not be locked into one service provider. "The providers are part of the discussion to maintain our competitiveness."

Person explained that the county has grown so much that the technological infrastructure hasn't been able to keep up. "We have to identify those gaps," she said.

"Broadband is considered to be an essential 21st century infrastructure for economic development and competitiveness, public safety, e-health and telemedicine, education and workforce development, e-government services, social media and many other applications," according to the consortium. "Despite California's leadership in the creation and adoption of advanced communications and information technologies, many gaps exist in both infrastructure and access to the uses of these important technologies."

Some areas lacking in Solano County include the city of Benicia's industrial park.

Benicia's acting Economic Development Manager Mario Giuliani said that the city council voted to support the process to "beef up" the broadband system in the county.

He explained that Benicia has one of the largest industrial parks in the county, but doesn't have access to broadband, which makes connecting to the Internet more expensive.

Adding broadband to the mix would provide more options for users and will in turn have better service making it less expensive to transfer greater volumes of data using the latest technology.

"If we're a high-tech hub, we want to make sure all our cities have that capability that we're claiming is our competitive edge," Person added.