California lawmakers have a chance to reconsider cable lobby’s big lie

by Steve Blum • , , , , , , ,

Even Comcast doesn’t believe 1.5 Mbps is enough.

The effort to resurrect a proposal to add $90 million to the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) and allow independent ISPs and cities to apply for grants is gathering steam. The California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) has published a white paper that’s aimed at debunking one of the more outrageous bits of misinformation spread by cable lobbyists as they derailed the bill in an assembly committee last month.

The whopper told by cable industry lobbyist Carolyn McIntyre was that only 12,000 homes in our state are unserved by broadband providers. That figure was pulled from incomplete data. The true number, as documented by CETF, is something like 225,000. Plus, there are millions more that are underserved by California Public Utilities Commission standards. McIntyre, with Comcast’s hired gun John Moffat singing back up, heaped scorn on those Californians by trying to convince committee members that no one needs more than 1.5 Mbps.

The false accusation that CASF pays for “overbuilds” is also refuted in the CETF white paper. Cable companies consider a project to be duplicating existing service – overbuilding – if substandard broadband service is available somewhere nearby, or if a cable company can claim an area to be within its franchise, even if it never strung wires or otherwise offered service. If you’re going to lie, make it big.

The pressure that McIntyre and Moffat put on assembly utilities and commerce committee members worked. Legislators who had previously supported senate bill 740 sat on their hands, leaving the measure three yes votes short of approval. Its author, senator Alex Padilla (D – Los Angeles), said afterwards he would be asking the committee to reconsider. That should happen on 12 August 2013. The committee hearing hasn’t been formally scheduled yet, though.

Anyone who is interested in offering an opinion can email or write to any or all of the committee members.