CPUC briefed on central coast broadband projects

by Steve Blum • , , , , ,

Connected central coast.

The Central Coast Broadband Consortium was well represented when the California Public Utilities Commission met in Carmel this month. I was one of the speakers, with the assignment of highlighting the proposals made from our region for grants and loans from the California Advanced Services Fund…

Good afternoon commissioners. My name is Steve Blum, my company is Tellus Venture Associates, I’m on the executive team for the Central Coast Broadband Consortium, one of the fourteen regional consortia you’ve generously funded, thank you very much. We include Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties. We support broadband adoption and access efforts, and serve as a resource for local agencies and community projects.

But far and away our top priority as a regional consortium is economic development. We’re dependent largely on agriculture and tourism for jobs, which accounts for our high unemployment rates.

We need to diversify our economy – better broadband infrastructure will make that possible. As a consortium we are mapping our regional broadband assets and developing a policy bank for local leaders. But the most valuable tool we have is the California Advanced Services Fund, again thank you very much. We worked with more than a dozen cable and telephone companies and ISPs to develop projects. In the last round, seven applications, nearly a quarter of the total, came from our region. All involved members of our consortium, six received logistical support from our grant team, and five were endorsed by our consortium as a whole.

One of those was submitted by Pinnacles Telephone Company in San Benito County, a small rural LEC south of Hollister. Three were submitted by Surfnet Communications, one project in the Santa Cruz Mountains and two in Monterey County, in cooperation with our fifth, our crown jewel, the Sunesys middle mile project. Starting in Santa Cruz, where Sunesys fiber has already ignited a mini-tech boom, it would run through Watsonville, Castroville, Salinas, Gonzales and Soledad – communities with some of the state’s highest crime and unemployment rates and lowest performing schools. Besides Surfnet, we have other last mile service providers who are working on plans to use the Sunesys fiber to light up under and unserved communities. One is Cruzio Internet, who’ll you’ll hear from next. The return on our investment, your investment too, we hope, will be significant, and even more so for the generations to come.

The CCBC has been working towards this goal for fifteen years. With your continued support, we will reach it. Thank you.