Point and counterpoint for new broadband subsidy rules in California

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

Eight rebuttals were filed yesterday, in response to the 14 opening comments on a draft of new rules for infrastructure construction subsidies from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF).

Three sets of reply comments came from service providers, or those who represent them. Frontier, a coalition of small rural telephone companies and the lobbying front for the California cable industry – CCTA – followed up their original comments by largely agreeing with each other, and objecting to any notion that greater accountability should be expected of them. Verizon sat out this round, which seems a smart move given its sorry showing in the last one.

Four groups – the CPUC’s office of ratepayer advocates, the California Center for Rural Policy (affiliated with the Redwood Coast consortium) and, in a joint filing that I wrote, the Central Coast and Central Sierra consortia – took issue with CCTA’s and Verizon’s notion that they are legally entitled to look at any CASF project proposal in an area they serve, and claim it as their own. California law doesn’t say anything of the sort, as ORA pointed out…

All Senate Bill (SB) 740 requires is that existing providers have an “opportunity to demonstrate” to the Commission that it will, within a reasonable timeframe, upgrade its facilities. The Draft Resolution provides this opportunity…and arguments by existing providers to redefine or expand the right of first refusal should be dismissed.

Finally, two replies were submitted from the new North Coast region. Tom West expanded on his original filing in one and two local broadband advocacy groups from Mendocino and Sonoma Counties endorsed his comments in another.

California Public Utilities Commission staff will work on revising the original draft, at least to the extent of acknowledging some of the points made, and possibly recommending more substantive changes. The commission is scheduled to vote on it at their next week, but don’t be surprised if it gets bumped by a meeting or two.

Draft resolution proposing new CASF rules, 27 May 2014

Senate Bill 740, as signed by Governor Brown

Reply comments from…

Central Coast Broadband Consortia and Central Sierra Connect

California Cable & Telecommunications Association

California Center for Rural Policy/Redwood Coast RBC

CPUC Office of Ratepayer Advocates

Frontier Communications

Rural telephone companies

Sonoma and Mendocino groups

Tom West/North Bay/North Coast RBC