California legislature considers raising broadband standard to 25 Mbps

by Steve Blum • , , ,

Californians can and should go faster.

While we’re waiting for the FCC to let us know what it actually did in its net neutrality and muni broadband decisions last week, let’s take a look at new broadband development bill that’s in the hopper in Sacramento: assembly bill 238, introduced by assemblyman Mark Stone (D – Santa Cruz).

Stone wants to raise the minimum broadband speed in California to meet the FCC’s recently adopted 25 Mbps down/3 Mbps up standard. If a given area doesn’t have at least one provider (presumably truthfully) advertising service at that speed, then it would be eligible for broadband infrastructure subsidies from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF)…

In California, home to the development of much of the world’ s most advanced telecommunications technology, 2.6 million people do not have access to any services offering wireline 25Mbps/3Mbps broadband speeds. The lack of access especially affects people living in rural counties…It is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to pursue the deployment of advanced telecommunications services with broadband speeds of at least 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream in all areas of the state.

Currently, the California Public Utilities Commission sets the Californian minimum at 6 Mbps down/1.5 Mbps up, but hints are emerging that it might adopt the FCC’s standard on its own, with or without legislative urging.

AB 238 would also remove the end-of–2015 deadline for approving CASF projects. Which makes sense, since legislative time tables mean it’s unlikely that Stone’s bill, if approved, would take effect until next year. Next stop for AB 238 is the assembly utilities and communication committee, which hasn’t scheduled a hearing on it yet.