Californian WISPs argue for exclusive right to offer poor service at a high price

by Steve Blum • , , ,

True. Someone needs to think smarter.

A couple of fixed wireless operators are fighting a rear guard action against a fiber to the home project in Nevada City. Approved for a $16 million California Advanced Services Fund subsidy by the California Public Utilities Commission in December, the Bright Fiber project would bring FTTH service to about 2,000 homes in the Nevada City area. Smarter Broadband and ColfaxNet don’t like that: they’ve gotten used to selling slow and expensive service to people that don’t have a choice. For example, Smarter Broadband’s rate card for “restricted line of sight” customers is $99 for 1 Mbps download and 384 Kbps upload speeds.

The two companies are asking the CPUC to reconsider the grant, recycling the same, unsuccessful arguments they made against the project last year. Bright Fiber filed its response, saying, among other things, that it’s about serving everybody and not just a lucky few…

What the Commission has decided…is the equivalent of a broadband “equal rights act” for households in areas where fixed line-of-sight signals from a wireless provider’s tower are inaccessible. Just because one house can receive a line-of-sight signal should not disqualify other nearby houses who cannot receive such a signal due to terrain, foliage, or lack of line-of-sight with the wireless provider’s tower. As noted in the Resolution, the project area terrain “is both irregular, with many hills and valleys as is typical in the Sierra foothills, and heavily forested.” As a result, the Resolution correctly notes that wireless signal propagation is poor due to the leaves, branches and tree trunks in such areas.

No word yet on whether the rehearing will be granted.

Tellus Venture Associates assisted Bright Fiber with preparation of its CASF grant application. I’m not a disinterested commentator. Take it for what it’s worth.