CPUC considers Salinas Valley fiber project tomorrow

by Steve Blum • , , , , , ,

Building better infrastructure.

An $11 million proposal to build a fiber optic backbone connecting the Salinas Valley to Silicon Valley, by way of Santa Cruz, goes in front of the California Public Utilities Commission tomorrow morning. A decision might or might not come. Commissioner Michel Florio has asked that the vote be delayed until next month, although that could change as the proposal is discussed.

CPUC president Michael Peevey is proposing to subsidise 83% of construction costs – grants from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) are usually limited to the 60% to 70% range – because of the social and economic impact the project would have. Those benefits will be underscored by Gonzales mayor Maria Orozco, who will be representing her city and the Central Coast Broadband Consortium at the meeting. Along with a couple dozen other regional leaders she endorsed the project, which will be built by Sunesys LLC and deliver dark fiber to Gonzales, Soledad, Chualar, Castroville and other underserved communities in Monterey County.

Aptos supervisor Zach Friend, the man behind the push to reform broadband infrastructure policy in Santa Cruz County, joined Monterey County supervisors Simon Salinas, Joseph Calcagno and Dave Potter in sending a letter of support to the commission…

Without question, the communities that would be served by this project currently lack broadband access common through much of the urban corridors in the state. This lack of access puts the thousands of students and local residents at a disadvantage compared to those who live in areas where adequate levels of broadband service are available.

Two other Monterey County CASF projects, both proposed by Surfnet Communications, are also on the commission’s agenda, but those are tied to the Salinas Valley dark fiber project and could be delayed as well. I’ll post an update as soon as the commission decides tomorrow.

Tellus Venture Associates assisted with several CASF proposals in the current round, including the Sunesys project, so I’m not a disinterested commentator. Take it for what it’s worth.