CPUC approves $1.8 million for “fiber to the vacation cabin”

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestLinkedInRedditEmail

No phone, no water, no power, no people. But wicked fast email.

“I’m a big supporter of fiber to the home, but fiber to the vacation cabin is a different thing”, said commissioner Michel Florio as he argued against giving a $1.8 million grant to the Ponderosa Telephone Company to build broadband infrastructure in a remote area of Madera County. His fellow commissioners did not agree, though, and the project was approved on a 4 to 1 vote.

The money, from the California Advanced Services Fund, will pay about 60% of the cost of building an FTTH system in Beasore and Central Camp, two communities in the Sierra National Forest that are tiny in the summer and all but uninhabited in the winter. The debate has focused on how much the California Public Utilities Commission would be spending per household, if it moved ahead. There was no clear answer to the question, but based on the information presented, it looks like the number is closer to the $55,000 figure that’s based on the 2010 census, rather than the $11,000 that Ponderosa claimed.

If you reckon a household as being a place where people live year-round.

Florio despatched a staffer to Madera County earlier this week to take a look. He came back with photos that showed that the area is all but closed down for the winter. Many of the “housing units” claimed by Ponderosa are tightly boarded up one room cabins, without electricity or indoor plumbing. Much of the area is only accessible by snowmobile. But if you count all that, then the cost per home probably is nearer the $11,000 claimed by Ponderosa. Which is still more than the previous CASF subsidy limit of $10,000 per household.

The other commissioners had mixed reasons for supporting the subsidy, ranging from president Michael Peevey’s what-else-will-we-do-with-the-money comments to commissioner Carla Peterman’s less than enthusiastic acceptance of a public safety argument (there’s no mobile phone service either), despite her doubts that the CPUC will “get the most bang for the buck”. Going forward, she said she wanted the commission to be proactive about finding areas with fundable broadband needs, rather than just waiting to see what proposals come in.

Tellus Venture Associates assisted with several CASF proposals in the current round, so I’m not a disinterested commentator. Take it for what it’s worth.

Comments (5)

5 Responses to “CPUC approves $1.8 million for “fiber to the vacation cabin””

  1. […] No phone, no water, no power, no people. But wicked fast email.  […]

  2. Fred Pilot says:

    No incumbent challenges make it a shoo in because it is being proposed by none other than the ILEC. If the commissioners truly want CASF to fund fiber to the premise infrastructure, they (along with the Legislature) must as you suggest loosen the CASF rules to make it easier to fund community fiber projects where incumbent providers opt not to build FTTP infrastructure. A great place to begin is the many California communities that are far more densely populated than this one but which continue in 2013 to be fully or partially redlined by ILECs and cable providers when it comes to wireline Internet premises service.

  3. […] “I’m a big supporter of fiber to the home, but fiber to the vacation cabin is a different thing”, said commissioner Michel Florio as he argued against giving a $1.8 million grant to the Ponderosa Telephone Company to build broadband infrastructure in a remote area of Madera County. His fellow commissioners did not agree, though, and the project was approved on a 4 to 1 vote.The money, from the California Advanced Services Fund, will pay about 60% of the cost of building an FTTH system in Beasore and Central Camp, two communities in the Sierra National Forest that are tiny in the summer and all but uninhabited in the winter. The debate has focused on how much the CPUC would be spending per household, if it moved ahead. There was no clear answer to the question, but based on the information presented, it looks like the number is closer to the $55,000 figure that’s based on the 2010 census, rather than the $11,000 that Ponderosa claimed.If you reckon a household as being a place where people live year-round.Florio despatched a staffer to Madera County earlier this week to take a look.Click headline to read more–  […]

  4. […] You’ve heard of fiber to the antenna, but what about fiber to the cabin? This crazy story seem… […]

  5. […] service and some kind of allowance for satellite service ought to be made. But since the commission approved $1.8 million for fiber-to-the-vacation-shack service in Madera County last month, you can never say […]

Leave a Reply