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Pinnacles broadband upgrade recommended for CASF funding

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Pinnacles’ wide and open vistas are beautiful to see, difficult to serve.

With only a couple hundred subscribers spread over an area of California larger than Alameda County, Pinnacles Telephone Company has to do a big job with tiny resources. Even so, it has consistently worked to modernise its plant in southern and eastern San Benito County over the years, replacing copper links with fiber and offering Internet service, via both DSL and fixed wireless connections.

The California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) is now on track to help with a couple of key upgrades. California Public Utilities Commission staff have recommended approving a $195,000 grant to pay for 60% of the cost of increasing back haul capacity – via a wireless link – and upgrading DSL service to about forty homes south of Paicines with four miles of fiber optic trunks and new remote terminals. The increased capacity will also bring faster DSL to a handful of people living in or around Pinnacles National Park, which has also been newly upgraded from a national monument.

I helped put together the application for this project. It’s one of half dozen I worked on in the current batch of CASF subsidy proposals that were submitted back in February. It was encouraged and supported by the Central Coast Broadband Consortium, which provided mapping assistance and coordination with public agencies and community groups to several applicants in the region. The critical public safety gap this project will help fill is a primary reason it’s being recommended for funding.

It was a straightforward project, in terms of financial viability and CASF eligibility. No worries about subscriber ramps: existing customers will be upgraded in place. There are no other wireline carriers in the area, and wireless broadband is all but non-existent. It’s a typical situation for the tiny independent telephone companies that serve the vast reaches of California that don’t appeal to the likes of AT&T, Verizon and Comcast.

Along with at least three other CASF projects, the Pinnacles grant is scheduled to be voted on by commissioners at their 31 October 2013 meeting.