Most CASF money requested is for fiber

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The California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) proposal count is now an even 30, with a total of $246 million requested. That’s more than twice the available money in the CASF kitty.

A $13.3 million middle mile project linking Santa Cruz to Soledad in Monterey County is proposed by Sunesys, working with U.C. Santa Cruz.

Nearly half of the total – $119 million – is for the other middle project, a 2,200 mile fiber build through 16 rural Northern California counties. 54% of the total amount requested is for middle mile-only infrastructure.

The Shasta County project now has price tag: $2.5 million. The summary says it’s for three wireless towers, but I’m guessing something else is in there too. Maybe some fiber back haul?

The other 28 projects all propose last mile service, although many also include middle mile backhaul elements. The breakdown is:

Last mile technology Number of projects Total (million)
DSL 9 $8.5
FTTH 12 $80.8
Satellite 1 $11.1
Wireless 6 $13.0

A third of the money requested is for FTTH projects. DSL upgrades – which also include backhaul, mostly fiber – are the most frugal technology proposed. Those account for nearly a third of the applications submitted, but only come to 3% of the total dollars requested. The wireless proposals are also a relative bargain: 20% of the projects and 5% of the total ask. One satellite project – ViaSat – comprises another 5%.

All rolled up – middle mile, FTTH and backhaul for last mile – fiber spending appears to account for more than 90% of the $246 million.

The California Public Utilities Commission uses a point system to help sort out and rank the grant and loan requests. The most points – 35 out of 100 – are assigned to cost per household, so less expensive technologies could have an edge. But 20 points are for service speeds, which will help to boost fiber scores. Still to be sorted, though, are how to compare middle and last mile projects and assess the quality of the bandwidth on offer.

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.