It’s Broadband Week in Sacramento


It’s a doin’s.

Four days of broadband related meetings are set to begin on Monday in Sacramento.

First up, on Monday afternoon, the assembly utilities and commerce committee plans a hearing on “bridging the digital divide in California: a foundation for a better way of life”. The immediate topic is assembly bill 1299, which would direct California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) money generally toward public housing programs. The draft language is very broad, but there’s been discussion that it’ll be tightened up to focus specifically on smart housing initiatives. I think that’s the better approach.

Tuesday, CASF-funded regional broadband consortia will meet with California Public Utilities Commission staff to assess progress and share ideas. The program started just over a year ago and already has successes to its credit. Visits with local legislators are also scheduled. SB740, which would extended CASF for another five years and expand eligibility for funding, and AB1299 will be high on the list of priorities.

Wednesday morning, the California Broadband Council meets. They’ll discuss broadband initiatives, including telemedicine, libraries and the CASF program. In the afternoon, California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) staff and people from projects it finances will join CPUC and consortia representatives for workshops, presentations and networking. Those sessions last through Thursday.

Topics include best practices for local broadband policy, better use of broadband availability and mapping data, the role of wireless ISPs, and public and private infrastructure funding. Network and engineering executives from AT&T, Verizon and Frontier will take part in a panel discussion. Cable companies declined to participate, choosing to send a lobbyist instead.

No question, this is my idea of fun.

About Steve Blum

Steve Blum is president of Tellus Venture Associates, a management, planning and business development consultancy for municipal and community broadband initiatives. He is a 30-year industry veteran and an expert in developing new broadband infrastructure and services, including wireless, fiber optic and satellite systems. His career includes playing key roles in the launch and growth of DirecTv in the U.S., as well as other satellite broadcasting platforms around the world. For the past ten years, he has helped build municipal wireless and fiber optic broadband systems. His client list includes many California cities, such as San Leandro, Palo Alto, Oakland, Los Angeles, Lompoc and Folsom. He’s a member of the executive team for the Central Coast Broadband Consortium and has worked with other regional consortia in California. Steve is the author of seven books on the Internet and satellite broadcasting and is a frequent contributor to professional journals and industry events. He holds an A.B. in History from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.A. in East Asia Studies from the University of Washington, and an M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas. He is a triathlete and multiple Ironman finisher, and is currently ranked in the top 100 of the Challenge Triathlon world rankings, out of more than 30,000 athletes.