Tag Archives: boonville

Verizon throws three more broadband subsidy tantrums

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Can you hear me now?

To get a broadband construction subsidy from the California Advanced Services Fund (CPUC), you have to show that the area where you want to build is at least underserved, as defined by the California Public Utilities Commission speed standard of 6 Mbps down and 1.5 Mbps up. Incumbent carriers are then given a chance to prove you wrong.

In the current round of CASF grant and loan applications, submitted last February, some projects – particularly Golden Bear in north California and ViaSat all over the map – drew protests from a wide range of providers. Some weren’t challenged at all. Many, though, faced hardball opposition from local cable companies and a blanket objection from Verizon that makes you wonder if their legal and government affairs people even bothered to read the CASF rules and regs.

Their core objection – repeated over several projects – is that CASF subsidies aren’t necessary, pretty much anywhere in California, because Verizon is doing such a doggone good job

Verizon challenged…stating that wireless carriers continue to build-out their 4G LTE networks. Verizon’s challenge was very vague and did not contain information sufficient to determine if Verizon was challenging the entire project proposal or just a specific area of the project…[CPUC] staff requested that Verizon clearly identify what areas of the project, by census block, it was challenging and to provide…the following information: number of subscribers by census block and speed tier, speed tests with a description on how the speed tests were conducted and what tools were used, and the address of the location of where the speed tests were performed to help determine if in fact the area is served. Verizon did not provide a response or any further information on the challenge and therefore CD staff considers Verizon’s challenge unsubstantiated.

That particular summary was written by CPUC staff regarding Race Telecommunications’ Boron project, but it was essentially the same language used in several other analyses. Verizon apparently believes that diffidently tossing unsubstantiated – and often demonstrably false – advertising claims at the CPUC is all it needs to do to block competition.

Now, it’s going after the Boron project directly, as well as WillitsOnline’s Westport and Boonville projects. In an error-ridden letter, Verizon wants commissioners to take its broadband speed claims at face value and deny the Boron grant application. Similarly arrogant and vacuous objections were submitted regarding Westport and Boonville.

No subscriber numbers, no location information and no test data. It’s just one more angry wail from a corporate temper tantrum that began last year.

Fortunately, Race Telecommunications did its homework and has the test data to back up its grant request. Assuming standard operating procedure, CPUC staff will note Verizon’s unsupported objections in a revised resolution – presumably but not certainly – still recommending funding the project, and give it to commissioners for a vote at their 31 October 2013 meeting.

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.

Competitive ADSL upgrade subsidies recommended for California’s Mendocino County

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DSL upgrades installed by a competitive local exchange carrier in two Mendocino county towns will be largely paid for by the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF), if the California Public Utilities Commission approves draft resolutions released yesterday. With AT&T and Verizon quietly shutting down DSL service in rural areas of California, these types of projects might be a way to avoid forcing residents to rely on the costly wireless service preferred by the incumbents.

Both projects were proposed by WillitsOnline. One involves installing ADSL2+ equipment in AT&T central office in Boonville, and connecting it to leased fiber that runs back to a switch WillitsOnline is building in Ukiah. About 600 homes will be offered speeds up to 25 Mbps download and 2 Mbps upload via AT&T’s existing copper. Eighty percent of the cost of the project would come from CASF, $123,000 as a grant and $41,000 as a loan.


WillitsOnline walks the walk, but can it talk the talk?

In Westport, a once thriving logging town in the far north of the county, WillitsOnline proposes to install an outdoor DSLAM next to AT&T’s terminal and build a microwave backhaul link to feed it. They’ll use AT&T’s subscriber lines to offer 6 Mbps down and 2 Mbps up to 126 homes. Because about half those homes have no broadband service available, except from satellite ISPs, CASF would contribute $149,000 in grant funding to the project, which is 65% of the cost. CASF gives grants of up to 70% of the cost of infrastructure projects in underserved areas and 60% in underserved ones.

Comcast tried to block the Boonville project, telling the CPUC it offered broadband service in the proposed area. After digging into the details, though, CPUC staff determined Comcast had its geography wrong and dismissed the challenge.

These days, Boonville is probably best known for its microbrewery, but it has a special place in California history as the only town to develop its own indigenous language, called Boontling. In the 1970s, it was also passingly infamous as the site of an indoctrination camp run by the Moonies.

Putting Boonville online will be good for the community, and good fun for the rest of us.

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.