Surfnet Communications, Inc. (Surfnet), a leading internet service provider for underserved Central Coast communities has been awarded $10,083,005 by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for Surfnet’s new initiative to extend high-speed, fiber broadband services to rural communities in Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and San Luis Obispo counties.

“Everyone who lives in rural and mountainous communities deserves access to reliable, high-speed internet service, from families and seniors to remote workers and small businesses,” said Mark Morgenthaler, CEO of Surfnet Communications, Inc. “This is a very big day because we now have a clear path to providing more resilient internet infrastructure that meets the unique needs and challenges of the rural communities we serve. We are truly excited to be awarded this funding because it will make it possible to deliver much better internet service, while bridging the digital divide, fostering economic development, and future-proofing our infrastructure.”

The new initiative will deliver an estimated increase in download speed of up to 1,000%, and an increase in upload speed of as much as 3,330%. These speed increases support Surfnet’s goal to provide enhanced, reliable connectivity that will increase access to the internet, promote digital inclusion and stimulate economic growth.

The grant funding, which comes from the CPUC’s California Advanced Services Fund, is essential to meet Surfnet’s key goal to future-proof internet infrastructure in rural communities. The rural, mostly mountainous communities that are the focus of the initiative are prone to wildfires, which pose unique challenges to development of internet infrastructure. Surfnet has leveraged its direct experience in local mountain communities to design the initiative to not just withstand, but mitigate the foreseen and unforeseen fire hazards associated with this terrain.

Work on the initiative is expected to begin in July 2024, with the first customers receiving service this fall. Full implementation is expected within approximately 18 months.

About the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF)

Since 2008, the CASF has helped close the Digital Divide in California by providing subsidies to build and expand broadband facilities to unserved areas of the state. The program has funded fiber-optic, fixed wireless, hybrid fiber-coaxial, and copper facility-based projects with a goal for the CASF Infrastructure Account of making broadband available to 98 percent of households in California by 2032.

About Surfnet Communications, Inc.

Locally-owned and headquartered in Santa Cruz County, Surfnet Communications, Inc. is dedicated to advancing internet access and promoting digital inclusion across Central California’s coastal regions. With a focus on sustainable and resilient infrastructure, Surfnet aims to enhance connectivity for underserved communities, ensuring reliable and high-speed internet services to support economic growth and social well-being.