Satellite, DSL projects seek “unserved area” subsidies from CASF

Two DSL extensions and one satellite project are asking for a total of $651,622 in grant funding from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF). The two DSL extensions, proposed by WillitsOnline LLC and its subsidiary company, Rural Broadband Now! LLC, would bring ADSL2+ to homes in the Westport and Boonville areas of Mendocino County. The proposals request $161,500 and $128,000 respectively. Satellite Internet provider ViaSat, Inc. is asking for $362,122 to reach about 700 homes in rural pockets of Monterey County.

The deadline for applications for projects targeting areas the CPUC defines as unserved was Monday, 1 October 2012. Only three proposals were received. A second application window closes on 1 February 2013 for projects in underserved and combined under/unserved areas.

An area is considered “underserved” by the CPUC if current broadband providers do not offer residents service of at least 6 Mbps down and 1.5 Mbps up. Service offered by mobile carriers counts in that assessment, but satellite service does not unless it’s from a project that has been previously funded by CASF (to date, there are no such projects). “Unserved” means that the only option available is either dial-up or satellite service.

ViaSat is asking CPUC to pay for customer premise equipment and installation in unserved pockets within seven census block groups in southern and coastal Monterey County. Although details haven’t been released, the general proposition is that ViaSat would offer discounted service for some period of time to CASF-subsidized households.

The Central Coast Broadband Consortium assisted ViaSat with the mapping required by the application. This help was provided as part of its CASF-funded project and is available to any prospective applicant on a neutral basis. Some CCBC members were involved in promoting the project, but the Consortium as a whole has not endorsed it.

The WillitsOnline projects are more traditional. From the applications:

WillitsOnline LLC and its subsidiary company, Rural Broadband Now! LLC, propose to deploy its Mega*Link ADSL2+ broadband service to Westport, CA. This project will employ the use of ADSL2+ to end user locations by deploying a hardened outdoor dslam colocated next to the ATT remote terminal that serves the Westport area. Middle mile connectivity will be provided by wireless microwave communications. Maximum attainable speeds will reach 24mbps down / 2mbps up, with initial service plans available of up to 6mbps down and 1mbps up.

WillitsOnline LLC and its subsidiary company, Rural Broadband Now! LLC, propose to deploy its Mega*Link ADSL2+ broadband service to Boonville, CA. This project will employ the use of ADSL2+ to end user locations by deploying in the ATT Central Office serving the area, and using a DWDM fiber middle mile component on leased dark fiber. Speeds available will reach 24mbps down and 2mbps up, with various service plans available tailored for business, residential and commercial users.

CASF also offers a loan program, but no loan applications were filed. The three grant proposals are subject to eligibility challenges by other providers. The challenge window is open for about three weeks. If no challenges are received, the expectation is that CPUC staff will provide their initial response by mid-November, while responses to challenges would come in early December.

Download application summaries:

ViaSat for Monterey County

WillitsOnline for Westport

WillitsOnline for Boonvile