Deadline soon for Californian broadband upgrades or obstruction

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Moderately Lucid Legal.

The first shoe is about drop for the next round of California Advanced Services Fund broadband subsidies. Any “existing broadband provider” can file a letter with the California Public Utilities Commission saying it’s making a commitment to upgrading its infrastructure in a given area, using its own money. If it does, the CPUC will freeze that area for up to a year – not allow any CASF infrastructure grant or loan applications to move forward.

It’s anyone’s guess as to what’s going to happen. Maybe no one will file and the whole exercise becomes just a box to check off and move on. Maybe incumbent providers will take a hard look at their capital budgets, identify genuine gaps in their coverage and do the right thing. Or maybe we’ll see another round of map spam, amounting to a cynical gambit to stall the CASF-subsidised competition for a year and lock communities into sub-standard service for even longer.

Incumbents don’t have to make a binding commitment. Simply a commitment. The sort of promise that can be easily broken by a moderately lucid legal team with a sufficiently thick layer of excuses and weasel words.

The deadline is tomorrow, 1 November 2014. It’s a Saturday, so if anybody wanted to stretch it out until Monday, the next business day, then there’s a plausible argument they could, given the CPUC’s standard operating procedures. It might even be the first indication as to whether or not a moderately lucid legal team is on the case.