Sierra fixed wireless project in line for California broadband subsidy

by Steve Blum • , , ,

El Dorado County is in line for another wireless broadband project, largely paid for by the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF). Last year Cal.net, a wireless Internet service provider in the Sierra Nevada, submitted four proposed projects to the California Public Utilities Commission, asking for a total of $8.1 million in CASF grants to pay for 60% of construction costs. Two of the projects were in El Dorado County. The first, which covers underserved areas to the north of U.S. highway 50, was approved in January.

A draft resolution approving the second projects, which covers areas in the southern and eastern reaches of the county, is scheduled for a vote by commissioners later this month. The cost of the project to CASF would be $1.3 million, about $300,000 more than originally requested. As designed, it’s supposed to reach about 1,500 homes, at an average cost of $830 per location.

According to the draft resolution

Cal.net will use a variety of technologies to service broadband to end users, which includes Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure (“U-NII”) equipment for line- of-sight situations, fixed-LTE (a non-mobile variation of the LTE commonly used in cell phones) for near-line-of-sight situations (minor obstructions), and TV White Space in the UHF and upper-VHF bands for heavily-obstructed non-line-of-sight situations.

That’s a similar tech profile to the project approved in January, which was the first CASF project to include TV white space and, as far as I can tell, was also the first to use LTE technology in unlicensed (or semi-licensed) bands.