BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Negotiations are moving forward on an ambitious plan to provide greater access to low-cost broadband internet service throughout the greater Bakersfield area.

The County of Kern and the City of Bakersfield are in talks with SiFi Networks to install fiber-optic infrastructure for underserved communities.

Under the proposal, SiFi Networks would build a fiber-optic network, using micro-trenching technology, at no cost to the county or the city. It would be a $400 million investment by SiFi Networks.

“Open access is something that is gravely needed these days across the country and in our communities because it creates competition,” SiFi Networks Vice President of Goverment Affairs, Sean Parker said.

The focus would be on lower-income communities like Oildale, Lamont, east Bakersfield and Fuller Acres.

SiFi would offer broadband internet subscriptions to residents at competitive prices. Residents would also have the option of staying with their current internet service provider. But SiFi says with current federal and state subsidies, the monthly cost for internet service could be as low as $30 a month.

Kern County Chief Operations Officer Jim Zervis said the fiber-optic network would address a “digital divide” throughout metro Bakersfield.

“Oildale or the City of Lamont is going to get the same kind of infrastructure and connectivity that you would get in Seven Oaks or another more affluent area.”

A contract between the county and SiFi Networks should be ready for Board of Supervisors consideration by mid-September, Zervis said.