Broadband reformers face off against cable, telco monopolies in California senate. Again

3 December 2020 by Steve Blum
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Liberty valance duke

Broadband infrastructure and financing reform will be one of the first policy initiatives out of the gate when bills start dropping at the California capitol on Monday. Senator Lena Gonzalez (D – Los Angeles) will introduce a measure that picks up where the effort to pass senate bill 1130 left off in September. Gonzalez and her fellow senators reached an agreement with governor Gavin Newsom on how California should subsidise broadband infrastructure and what minimum service levels should be, but SB 1130 died when assembly leaders killed it, as AT&T and cable companies pay them to do.… More

California’s deemed granted wireless permit battle begins as T-Mobile takes on San Francisco

1 December 2020 by Steve Blum
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Marina cell sites 625

Shot clocks only matter if a referee blows the whistle. California and federal laws, and Federal Communications Commission regulations set deadlines of anywhere from 60 days to 150 days for local agencies to approve or deny permits for construction or modification of wireless facilities, including cellular sites. In theory, when the deadline passes, the permit is deemed granted (or deemed approved, per California’s law). In practice, I’ve never seen a mobile company try to exercise deemed granted privileges in California.… More

Why traffic signals are lavishly lit but muni IT networks are frugal with fiber

30 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Traffic lights

The classic make versus buy question asks whether it’s cheaper or otherwise more advantageous for a company to manufacture a product or create a service, or to buy it from an outside source. When municipal fiber is involved, the same metrics and equation apply, but the answers are sometimes surprising.

If a city wants to use fiber to connect facilities or for traffic management, make and buy are completely different scenarios. Public agencies have a tendency to favor solutions that are light on ongoing operating costs, particularly given the uncertainty cities in California face regarding revenue and the uncontrolled long term growth of contractual obligations such as employee pensions and health care.… More

Thankful for one more trip around the sun

27 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Martina mcbride

Happy Thanksgiving, Gentle Reader. I’m most thankful that you’re interested enough to be reading this on a holiday weekend. Next to that, I’m thankful there’s only a month left in 2020. As Jimmy Buffett and Martina McBride sang, this year gone by ain’t been a piece of cake.

If you’re still reading, I’ll assume you have some particular interest in this Humble Blog, and might want to know what I have planned for it. I began it twelve years ago, and went to daily blogging eight years ago this coming Tuesday.… More

Forcing mobile carriers to share light poles isn’t a practical possibility

25 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Mwc la site 21oct2019

One question I often get is can local or state governments require mobile carriers to share cell sites, particularly small ones that can be attached to something like a street light pole?

No.

There are technical issues with carriers sharing big, macro site towers, but those are generally solvable if the tower is big enough, and cities can sometimes pressure or cajole carriers to work together. A major consideration is whether the location of a given tower meets the engineering requirements of a mobile carrier.… More

No help for California in FCC’s lifeline plea deal with T-Mobile

24 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Sprint booth mwc la 2019 22oct2019

T-Mobile will pay a $200 million fine to clear Sprint’s bad conduct off of the Federal Communication Commission’s books, but the deal doesn’t include repayment of state subsidies that the company took for low income “lifeline” customers who weren’t actually using the service. T-Mobile assumed responsibility for Sprint’s lifeline service – Assurance Mobile – when it took over Sprint earlier this year. The violations of the subsidy rules and improper collection of “tens of millions of dollars” from the FCC’s lifeline piggy bank happened before the merger but came to light while the FCC and the California Public Utilities Commission were reviewing it.… More

CPUC commissioners to decide if Digital Path’s sharp dealing deserves taxpayers’ money

23 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Three card monte

Not every project proposed for a broadband infrastructure grant from the California Advanced Services Fund that could have been waved through and approved administratively was. Nine grant requests from Charter Communications received a “ministerial” blessing, but a proposal from Digital Path was bucked to the five CPUC commissioners for a decision.

Digital Path wants $415,000 from CASF for fixed wireless facilities to cover 279 homes, mostly in Sutter County, with a few in Placer County. Cover, not necessarily serve.… More

Breaking: CPUC ups proposed RDOF kicker to as much as 30%, for all federally eligible areas in California

20 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Front line dispatch 625

Updated 10:01 a.m.

New rules for the California Public Utilities Commission’s proposed contribution – aka “kicker” – to the federal Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) were published this morning.

Click here to see the letter.

Changes include an offer of “up to 30%” of the Federal Communications Commission’s ten year “reserve price” for “all RDOF census block groups”, with a guarantee that 10% of the FCC reserve price will be available to Internet service providers that win subsidies for census block groups that are on the previously published list of particularly disadvantaged communities.… More

FCC hands high tech a victory over low transportation bureaucracy

20 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Uber hyundai copter ces 8jan2020

On Wednesday, the lame duck Federal Communications Commission reassigned 45 MHz of automotive spectrum in the crowded 5.8/5.9 GHz band for WiFi and other unlicensed uses, including transportation applications. It’s a long overdue decision – I’ve been following the debate since the Obama administration – and a welcome one for two reasons: unlicensed spectrum is the lifeblood of consumer connectivity, and it marks a victory for 21st century technology over 19th century bureaucracy and 20th century political payoffs.… More

Waymo logs 800,000 miles in California autonomous ride sharing pilot, as CPUC preps to allow fare-paying service

19 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Autonomous vehicles (AVs) transported passengers more than 900,000 miles in California during the past two years, as part of a pilot program approved by the California Public Utilities Commission in 2018. Most of those miles were logged by Waymo, Google’s AV subsidiary. All of those trips were free and all were with a human driver onboard – no AV company opted to test truly driverless service, with monitoring by a remote operator.

That’s about to change.… More