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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #22-47
October 6, 2022
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

CDE and Humboldt County Education Leaders Celebrate Expanded High-Speed Internet to Further Close Digital Divide

FAIRHAVEN—The California Department of Education (CDE) celebrated the launch of a new high-speed digital internet system in Fairhaven at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, October 4. The newly installed broadband network is a model in an effort to reduce rural California’s internet “digital divide,” and is a collaboration between the Humboldt County Office of Education (HCOE), California-based technology firm Dalet Access Labs, and the Samoa Peninsula Fire District. The innovation is the result of State Superintendent Tony Thurmond’s Innovation Challenge that was for the development of a solution to help bridge the digital divide in underserved communities and expand high-speed internet across California.

“I am excited for the community of Fairhaven to get connected. If there is one silver lining we can take from the pandemic, it is that it exposed the extent of the digital divide for our students and families that brought about this innovation,” said Chief Deputy Superintendent Mary Nicely. “From the first days of the pandemic, State Superintendent Thurmond made connectivity a top priority so our students could continue their education from home. If not for his statewide leadership to close the digital divide, form the Digital Divide Task Force, and launch the Innovation Challenge, we would not be here today to celebrate the connection of our students and this community to access essential information and services.”

The HCOE worked closely with the technology firm Dalet and set out to conduct the project in the rural Humboldt County community of Fairhaven. The community of Fairhaven was selected as many families with school children in the community lived there when distance learning was not possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Samoa Peninsula Fire District’s Fairhaven fire station was chosen as the base of operations due to its proximity to all the homes in Fairhaven.

The Digital Divide Innovation Challenge, announced last year by Superintendent Thurmond, stipulated that competitors must test their innovation with students experiencing a lack of connectivity either due to barriers of affordability or infrastructure. The solution must be at a cost of no more than $15/month per household, include 100 megabits synchronous upload and download speed with no data caps, and have fully deployable implementation within a year. The system is now deployed, and the project remains entered in the competition where the prize is $1 million. The Fairhaven model surpassed the minimum requirements for the Innovation Challenge by providing download speeds of around 100 megabits. Dalet Access Labs led the project with HCOE to create the broadband system under guidelines set forth in the CDE competition. The group worked with Cogent Communications and AT&T to launch a live fiber optic line to the Fairhaven firehouse structure and through the system’s optimized sensor-networking software, the system was enabled, providing low latency, and high-speed internet coverage to families in Fairhaven. The infrastructure for high-quality distance learning was in place as a result.

For more information about the California Bridging the Digital Divide Fund, please email Corporate and institutional donors may contact Mary Nicely at

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Thursday, October 06, 2022
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