CPUC faces a decision on broadband subsidy limits

Broadband construction subsidies are averaging $2,200 per household, as the California Public Utilities Commission works through the current round of proposals submitted for California Advanced Services Fund grants. Nine applications for last mile projects have been approved so far, with an estimated reach of 9,700 homes and totalling $21 million.

CASF approved projects, as of 31 October 2013.

The most money – $3,800 per household passed – is going to an FTTH project in the high desert town of Boron. A DSL upgrade in Boonville, in Mendocino County, is getting the least, $270 per home, including both a $123,000 grant and a $41,000 loan. Reckoning on just the grant amount, the per household subsidy in Boonville is $202.

A combined middle and last mile project in Humboldt County has also been funded, at a cost of $6.6 million to CASF. Its immediate reach is estimated at about 700 homes, which puts it at $8,100 per household, but that includes the cost of a 82 mile backbone connection to an Internet hub down the coast, which is expected to support other last mile Internet service providers once it’s built.

The only project that commissioners have looked at and put on hold is a $1.8 million FTTH proposal in Madera County. Depending on how households are counted, it’s either far out of the current range at $11,000, or astronomically so at $55,000 per home passed. They’re scheduled to vote on it next Thursday at their 14 November 2013 meeting, although it could get bumped again. It’s an opportunity for commissioners to set a per household limit on broadband construction subsidies. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with it.

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