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Community forums assessing internet access, affordability taking place across Santa Barbara County

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SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. — Residents of Santa Barbara County can share their experiences with internet speed and cost through a series of community forums held throughout the county that examine internet access and affordability in the community.

The forums are tied to an effort led by the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) to develop a countywide broadband strategic plan.

The plan aims to gain a better understanding of internet availability and affordability for Santa Barbara County residents, and then use that understanding to guide funding decisions for projects that can increase internet access. broadband in order to work towards a more digitally inclusive. county, according to SBCAG spokeswoman Lauren Bianchi Klemann.

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The forums will discuss the broadband strategic plan and include roundtables with community leaders, businesses, schools and nonprofits, Bianchi Klemann said.

The events began in April and will continue in each of the eight county towns and unincorporated areas through the first week of June.

Information from the first three forums in April focused on access and affordability, said Bianchi Klemann, giving an example of how some existing free or low-cost programs do not meet the “speed of living “current required to participate in distance learning or telehealth.

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“Others have called for the need for training, especially for parents and the elderly,” Bianchi Klemann said of past community forums.

“Speaking of innovation and infrastructure, Lompoc panelist and Lompoc Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Bree Valla spoke about their infrastructure needs to make ‘magic’ happen for families during the pandemic. saying that “we’re not just talking about the last mile, we’re talking about the last feet.

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Click here for a schedule of upcoming Community Forums.

For those unable to attend a forum in person, they can self-declare their Internet needs by completing this survey by May 31. The survey is available in English and Spanish.

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