Tag Archives: rural broadband

Democrats in D.C. and Sacramento in sync on fast fiber for broadband. So far

by Steve Blum • , , ,

Sunesys build freedom blvd 625

If you can’t get high quality broadband service with at least 25 Mbps download and upload speeds, then you’re unserved according to a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill passed on a partisan vote by democrats in the federal house of representatives. $80 billion of that money is set aside for broadband service upgrades, with symmetrical 100 Mbps service considered the minimum acceptable and preference given to subsidised projects that deliver 1 Gbps down and up.

Unlike California, republicans matter in D.C. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R – Kentucky) scoffed at the house infrastructure bill, saying “naturally this nonsense is not going anywhere”. That doesn’t take meaningful broadband subsidies off the table, though. With unemployment at historic levels in an election year, a big, job-creating infrastructure bill will be popular on both sides of the aisle.

The 25 Mbps down/up eligibility standard and the 100 Mbps down/up construction standard track with a bill that’s moving through the California legislature. Senate bill 1130 doesn’t go quite that far – symmetrical 100 Mbps infrastructure is a goal, not a requirement – but even with the weasel words it’s a quantum leap from California’s pitiful 6 Mbps down/1 Mbps up minimum. It’s the difference between 1990s DSL and 2020s fiber.

So far, California democrats have stayed in sync with their Washington, D.C. colleagues. All California senate democrats voted in favor of SB 1130, along with a lone republican. The bill was sent over to the assembly and is on track for a hearing in the communications and conveyances committee.

The big question is whether democrats on the committee – 10 out of 12 members – follow the party line or channel their inner GOP animal spirits, as they have on broadband subsidies and network neutrality in the past. The committee was scheduled to consider SB 1130 next week, but it’s on indefinite hold now, with the legislature shut down until further notice because of a covid–19 outbreak in the capitol.

Consumer service versus taxpayer costs: CPUC considers opening rural telco territory to competition

by Steve Blum • , , ,

Tesoro viejo construction 25aug2019

Small telephone companies that serve rural Californians will face direct competition from cable operators and other wireline telecoms companies if the California Public Utilities Commission approves a draft decision posted for review on Monday. Authored by commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves, the proposed new rules would allow competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) to provide voice telephone service in territories that are reserved exclusively for heavily subsidised, small local exchange carriers (Small LECs).

Acknowledging that “wireline competition must be allowed in the service territories of the Small LECs as a matter of law”, the draft tries to balance the benefits of competition to consumers with the potential cost to taxpayers if cable companies skim off profitable neighborhoods, leaving Small LECs increasingly dependent on universal service subsidies to serve the rest.

To gain permission to enter protected territories, CLECs would “be required to serve customers requesting wireline voice service within their self-designated service territories on a non-discriminatory basis”, regardless of how difficult that might be. The proposed decision strikes an old rule that limits that obligation to customers within 300 feet of a CLEC’s existing facilities.

“Cream skimming” would be banned. CLECs wouldn’t be able to draw service boundaries to suit profit-maximising business models. The proposed decision directs that…

A CLEC shall avoid designing a discriminatory self-designated service territory by ensuring that the self-designated service territory represents the demographics of the Small LEC territory it is entering by making a good-faith effort to serve a proportional number of residential to commercial customers, and a proportional number of low-income and non-low-income customers…[to] guard against only sub-sets of wealthy customers being served by the CLEC.

Comcast, for example, wouldn’t be able to cut a deal in a new, upscale development, as it did near Fresno, while ignoring less profitable lower income rural customers in the surrounding area.

CLECs would also have to accept all emergency preparedness obligations that the CPUC has in the pipeline, and meet whatever “location-specific” requirements are imposed on a case by case basis. None of it makes cable companies happy – they’ve paid a lot of money to a lot of politicians to avoid traditional, telco-style regulation.

Guzman Aceves’ proposed decision is on track for a commission vote in August.

Short broadband to-do list for California legislators upon return from summer vacation

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

California lawmakers are taking an abbreviated summer break. They usually leave Sacramento for a month around July, but since they were off for so long earlier this year due to covid-19 and because of the uncertain condition of the state budget, their effective vacation was trimmed back to less than two weeks. They’re scheduled to return to the capitol a week from today. When they return, they’ll have just a handful of broadband-related bills to act on.

The assembly’s incumbent-friendly communications and conveyances committee is scheduled to take up senate bill 1130 next Tuesday, the day after the legislature reconvenes. SB 1130, carried by Lena Gonzalez (D – Los Angeles) would raise California’s minimum broadband standard to symmetrical 25 Mbps download and upload speeds, and make other useful changes to the California Advanced Services Fund. An opposing bill, assembly bill 570, that tracks with talking points pushed by cable and telephone company lobbyists, is headed for the senate’s energy, utilities and communications committee. AB 570 is authored by Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D – Yolo), would cement in the current, pitiful 6 Mbps down/1 Mbps up standard and make other changes to the California Advanced Services Fund that suit incumbents with monopoly business models and deep pockets full of cash for pliable legislators.

SB 431, authored by Mike McGuire (D – Sonoma) has been stalled in the assembly communications and conveyances committee for more than a year, but is now scheduled for a hearing next Tuesday. Given the monied interests it offends, its prospects are dim. SB 432 would give the California Public Utilities Commission explicit instructions to established reliability standards for telephone, cable and mobile companies, and any other Internet service provider in high fire threat areas. Fortunately, the CPUC isn’t waiting for explicit instructions.

AB 2421, by Bill Quirk (D – Alameda) would require cities and counties to issue permits for back up generators at macro cell sites, following a minimal and expedited review. Those generators would also be exempt from California Environmental Quality Act requirements. AB 2421 was passed unanimously by the assembly in June, and is queued up in the senate.

Other broadband policy bills could appear as the legislature works towards adjournment at the end of August, but for now it’s a short list.

I’ve advocated for SB 1130, and for other useful changes to CASF. I am involved and proud of it. I am not a disinterested commentator. Take it for what it’s worth.

Bill to beat down broadband subsidy program drops in California assembly

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

Liberty valence 625

It was long expected. On Monday, assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D – Yolo) gutted an affordable housing bill and substituted text that would, if enacted, reaffirm that California’s broadband standard is stuck in the 1990s at 6 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speeds, and make it even more difficult to use the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to bring modern service to rural communities.

Assembly bill 570 is the cable and telephone industry’s response to senate bill 1130, which is carried by senator Lena Gonzalez (D – Los Angeles) and would raise California’s minimum broadband speed to a symmetrical 25 Mbps down and up. The AB 570 language tracks with talking points pushed by Comcast’s and Charter Communications’ Sacramento lobbying front, the California Cable and Telecommunications Associations (CCTA), and parroted by the California Emerging Technology Fund, a non-profit that takes its money from cable and phone companies these days.

They’ll be the big winners even if all AB 570 does is kill off SB 1130.

But it might go farther than that. AB 570 would also allow government agencies to tap into CASF and use it to backfill information technology and telecoms budgets. Up until now, CASF’s primary job has been to pay for upgrading rural broadband infrastructure, at least when it wasn’t being gamed by incumbents. The perilous condition of state and local government finances this year will make any new source of operating revenue very attractive to lawmakers.

That’s just in case the millions of dollars they’re paid by the likes of AT&T, Frontier, mobile companies and the cable industry isn’t sufficient motivation to embrace AB 570.

Aguiar-Curry rubbished SB 1130 during a California Forward-sponsored broadband policy webinar in May, even though she said she hadn’t read it yet. She was also a key backer of 2017’s AB 1665, which lowered California’s broadband standard to 6 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up, and turned CASF into a piggy bank for monopoly model incumbents.

This time, she’s taking the lead.

I’ve advocated for SB 1130, and for other useful changes to CASF. I am involved and proud of it. I am not a disinterested commentator. Take it for what it’s worth.

One California rural broadband subsidy bill goes to the governor, another moves on to the assembly

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

Cvin fiber marker sr49

Friday was a good day for broadband at the California capitol, as two bills expanding eligibility for infrastructure subsidies won lopsided votes. Senate bill 1130 was approved by the senate, and now awaits action in the assembly. Following senate approval on Thursday, assembly bill 82 was blessed by the assembly and is now on governor Gavin Newsom’s desk. He’s expected to sign it today.

The big, difficult and high impact bill is SB 1130. It would raise California’s minimum broadband to 25 Mbps download/25 Mbps upload speeds, and encourage – but not require – the California Public Utilities Commission to spend California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) money on infrastructure projects that deliver similarly symmetrical 100 Mbps down and up service. SB 1130 would also impose much needed open access requirements on CASF-subsidised middle mile projects. Monopoly model incumbents are against it, and the front organisation for Comcast, Charter Communications and other cable operators – the California Cable and Telecommunications Association – is, so far, the face of the opposition.

The 30 to 10 vote for SB 1130 (there’s one abstention in there, but that has the same effect as no) was mostly along party lines. One republican – Ling Ling Chang, from Orange County, joined democrats in voting aye. She was also the sole senate republican to vote aye on SB 822, the 2018 California network neutrality bill.

The more immediately useful bill, though, is AB 82. It takes effect as soon as Newsom signs it and allows the CPUC to top up October bids for federal broadband subsidies with CASF money, even when it would be spent in places that wouldn’t be eligible for it under normal circumstances. In 2017, the California legislature bowed to telco and cable lobbyists and lowered California’s broadband standard to 6 Mbps down/1 Mbps up, in order to protect their rural low speed, high price rural business model, and to fence off lucrative, high income neighborhoods from competition. The eligibility standard for federal Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) subsidy program is 25 Mbps down/3 Mbps up.

AB 82 passed easily with 57 ayes, with democrats and republicans on both sides of it in the 80 member assembly, and with a strict 29 to 11 party line vote in the senate. It wasn’t particularly a vote on broadband – AB 82 is a catch-all, budget clean up bill that also deals with alcohol, cannabis and privacy issues, among others.

I’ve advocated for SB 1130, and for other useful changes to CASF. I am involved and proud of it. I am not a disinterested commentator. Take it for what it’s worth.

Nearly all broadband subsidy proposals could survive California’s chopping block. Nearly

by Steve Blum • , , , , ,

There won’t be enough money in the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to pay for all the broadband projects proposed for subsidies last month. Grant requests total $533 million, but there’s only $145 million in tax revenue projected to be available for CASF infrastructure projects, as the program is designed and run now.

Something has to give. But not everything. One potential remedy is to top up project budgets with federal money. Two other possibilities are to reduce the share of those budgets paid for by CASF and/or eliminating some proposals completely.

Limited changes to CASF rules landed in the hopper at the California capitol on Monday. Two state budget clean up bills – “trailer bills” – with identical language were introduced: assembly bill 82 and senate bill 108. The tweaks allow CASF grants to be combined with subsidies from the federal Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), even when a project area has existing broadband service that exceeds California’s achingly slow 6 Mbps download/1 Mbps upload standard. A project area is eligible for RDOF money if it lacks service at 25 Mbps down/3 Mbps up.

Maybe the feds will ride to the rescue, but that’s a question for later. RDOF broadband subsidies are awarded via a complex reverse auction that is scheduled for October. For now, Californians have to rely on what’s left in CASF for broadband infrastructure upgrades. That means pruning back the $533 million thicket of grant applications.

Start by tossing Exwire’s $4.5 million proposal for the Kingswood neighborhood near Lake Tahoe. Charter Communications filed a competing (and more plausible) application and can upgrade broadband service there for less money. Pull out Hunter Communications’ $290 million fiber project in Mendocino County, too. Even if it were cut in half, it would soak up all the money remaining in CASF. To get back into the game before RDOF money shows up, Hunter will have to dramatically downsize and redesign the project. Maybe it will, but for now consider it sidelined.

That leaves 52 grant applications, most of which are asking CASF to pay for 100% of project construction costs. If you dial the subsidy level down to 60%, the total ask drops to $143 million, which is a neat fit for the estimated money available.

The world doesn’t run that neatly, though. Requiring 40% matching funds would likely eliminate many, maybe most, applicants – bankrupt Frontier Communications comes to mind. So another way to filter out proposals is by cost per home served.

There are four projects needing subsidies of more than $50,000 per home: Darlene Road, Ventura County (Charter), Cuyama, Santa Barbara County (Frontier), Long Valley, Plumas County (Plumas Sierra Telecoms) and the biggest ask remaining, the $82 million proposal made by a startup ISP, WiConduit, in western Sonoma County. Lop off those four and the remaining 48 projects total $132 million, leaving enough in the kitty to maybe add one or two (but not three) of the high cost proposals back in.

The culling process that California Public Utilities Commission staff will ultimately use won’t be this simple. There are many ways to stray from the CASF trail. For example, some projects could be killed off by eligibility challenges from competitors. Others could be rejected because of incomplete or inchoate applications. And some applicants might be deemed unfit or unqualified – project budgets have to backstopped by letters of credit and company financial statements have to be blessed by outside accountants.

This natural attrition combined with a shot at extra money from RDOF means there’s hope for everyone. There’s even the tantalising prospect that hybrid CASF/RDOF proposals for new projects will be entertained. Stay tuned.

The Central Coast Broadband Consortium (CCBC) supported Charter’s San Benito County proposal and assisted Etheric Networks with its application. The Connected Capital Area Broadband Consortium (CCABC) assisted DigitalPath. I assisted the CCBC and the CCABC, and also kibitzed on other projects. I also have opinions about what the CASF program should be (in case you haven’t noticed). I’m not a disinterested commentator. Take it for what it’s worth.

California broadband subsidy fund dwindles to less than a third needed for pending projects

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

Sick piggy bank

With only $145 million in collectable tax revenue left to spend on broadband infrastructure subsidies, the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) will run dry this year. Last month, 54 broadband projects totalling $533 million in grant requests were proposed for CASF funding. Many, if not all, will be trimmed and some will almost certainly be rejected completely.

My blog post yesterday details the $130 million shortfall in tax revenue collected for CASF – actual and projected – over the final five years of the program, assuming that the legislature doesn’t extend it or the California Public Utilities Commission can’t raise the tax rate applied to in-state phone bills that funds it. Most of the shortfall – almost $120 million – will hit the account that pays for extending and upgrading broadband infrastructure, mostly in rural Californian communities.

That means that the $575 million authorised by the legislature for broadband infrastructure subsidies over the past 12 years drops to about $457 million in real money. Since 2008, the CPUC has awarded $282 million to Internet service providers, nearly all as grants. There was a loan program early on, but that didn’t prove to be popular and it was wound down, with the remaining money in the loan fund reallocated to grants.

The overhead for running CASF is also paid for by the phone tax revenue. As of a year ago – the most recent figures available – administrative costs totalled $17 million since the beginning of the infrastructure subsidy program, and have risen over the years. If you assume that the $2.2 million spent on administrative costs just for the infrastructure program in fiscal year 2018–19 stays steady and all projects are wrapped up by 2025, total overhead climbs to $30 million.

There’s some uncertainty in the numbers. CPUC overhead might continue to rise and project oversight could drag on, but in some years investment income has more than covered administrative costs. Maybe all the 77 projects already approved for CASF funding will be completed, but that’s not the way to bet. Money allocated to cancelled projects and a small but steady stream of loan repayments could add to the total available for new infrastructure grants. On the other hand, it might not be a bad idea to leave a reserve for projects that overrun budgets through no fault of their own – for example, because of tougher utility pole attachment standards imposed by the CPUC itself.

With that caveat in mind, add up all the expenses, subtract them from the actual dollars the CPUC will collect for the CASF infrastructure program, and you end up with $145 million left to spend on broadband projects. Tune in tomorrow for a look at how those $533 million worth of grant proposals might be carved down to fit.

CASF Infrastructure Account as of 23 June 2020
Authorised – total$575,000,000
Infrastructure shortfall (est.)($117,654,165)
Infrastructure Account net of shortfall$457,345,835
Infrastructure awards as of 31 Dec 2019$271,333,358
Infrastructure grants awarded in 2020$10,825,350
Cumulative admin overhead as of 30 Jun 2019$16,732,595
Estimated admin overhead FY 2019–25$13,142,082
Total Infrastructure Account spent/encumbered$312,033,385
Funds remaining for new CASF infrastructure grants$145,312,450

The Central Coast Broadband Consortium (CCBC) supported Charter’s San Benito County proposal and assisted Etheric Networks with its application. The Connected Capital Area Broadband Consortium (CCABC) assisted DigitalPath. I assisted the CCBC and the CCABC, and also kibitzed on other projects. I also have opinions about what the CASF program should be (in case you haven’t noticed). I’m not a disinterested commentator. Take it for what it’s worth.

California’s broadband upgrade fund could lose $120 million, after senate committee caps subsidy bill

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

Los alamos verizon plant 29oct2015 625

The California senate’s appropriations committee slammed a hard limit on the amount of money the California Public Utilities Commission can collect from taxpayers to fund broadband infrastructure subsidies. If the cap becomes law, it will lead to a cut of about $120 million from money previously approved for expanding and upgrading broadband service in California, primarily in rural communities.

The amendments to senate bill 1130 – approved behind closed doors on Thursday – would remove the CPUC’s authority to increase the tax on telephone bills that’s collected for the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF). About 90% of CASF money is earmarked for broadband infrastructure construction grants. The rest goes towards broadband facilities for public housing, regional broadband consortia and broadband promotion.

The result, in very round numbers, could be a total CASF shortfall of $130 million. Which means the amount available for broadband infrastructure grants would be cut by something like $120 million, assuming the hit follows the historical 90% share given to infrastructure. That’s without adding investment income, which was $4.5 million in the last fiscal year, or subtracting out the CPUC’s administrative overhead costs, which were $3.5 million (10% of total CASF expenditures) in the same period. Both are trending up, although investment income is more volatile and, in any event, will drop as subsidy checks are written.

The blame or credit, depending on your point of view, doesn’t fall entirely on California lawmakers or the cable and telephone company lobbyists that pay them millions of dollars to protect monopoly-model businesses from competitors offering better service at a lower price. The CPUC set the current CASF tax bite at 0.56% of the monthly charges billed to telephone customers for in-state calls, beginning in 2018. That rate was reckoned at the time to be sufficient to collect the maximum $330 million CASF supplement – $66 million per year for five years – that was authorised by the legislature in 2017.

Things didn’t turn out that way. According the latest CASF annual report published by the CPUC, yearly revenue will be $41 million in 2020 and is expected to drop to $35 million in the next two years, just a bit over half of the authorised amount.

“This revenue shortfall is attributed to the continuing downward trend in intrastate telecommunications services that are subject to CPUC surcharges”, the annual report states.

Under current law, the CPUC can raise the 0.56% tax rate –“surcharge”, as the jargon goes – to keep CASF topped up, as it has done in the past. It has also lowered the rate in order to stay within caps set by the legislature. Whether commissioners have any appetite for raising it now is an open question. The 0.56% rate is the highest the CASF surcharge has ever been and, given the sharp drop in overall state revenues due to the covid–19 emergency, broadband subsidies are probably low on the Newsom administration’s tax hike priority list.

Details of the changes made to SB 1130 only became public over the weekend, as legislative staff worked through the dozens of bills that the senate appropriations committee blessed or killed on Thursday. The committee vote was five ayes and two noes, with the split breaking along party lines. Steven Bradford (D – Los Angeles), Jerry Hill (D- San Mateo), Connie M. Leyva (D – San Bernardino), Anthony Portantino (D – Los Angeles) and Bob Wieckowski (D – Los Angeles) were in favor; Patricia Bates (R – San Diego) and Brian Jones (R – San Diego) opposed it.

No other changes were made. As it now reads, SB 1130 would raise California’s minimum broadband service standard to 25 Mbps upload/25 Mbps download speeds. Sorta. A community that lacks that level of service would be eligible for a broadband upgrade grant from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF), but the maximum speeds supported by subsidised infrastructure could be as slow as 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload.

SB 1130 is queued up for a floor vote by the full California senate, where it needs a simple majority to pass.

I’ve advocated for SB 1130, and for other useful changes to CASF. I am involved and proud of it. I am not a disinterested commentator. Take it for what it’s worth.

Faster standards for broadband subsidies head to California senate floor, two other key bills killed

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

Cruzio fiber build 625

A bill to raise California’s minimum broadband speed standard and subsidise fiber to the premise infrastructure was blessed by the California senate’s appropriations committee yesterday. But the bill was amended and the changes haven’t been published yet. Two other bills that would have put emergency preparedness and response obligations on all Internet service providers were killed behind closed doors by senate leadership.

Senate bill 1130, authored by Lena Gonzalez (D – Los Angeles), would raise the eligibility standard for broadband infrastructure subsidies from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to 25 Mbps download/25 Mbps upload speeds, from the current pathetic level of 6 Mbps down/1 Mbps up.

Any community, or area within a community, that lacks broadband service at or above the eligibility standard – 6/1 now, maybe 25/25 soon – would be able to get money from CASF to upgrade broadband infrastructure to a higher service. Now, that level is an equally pathetic 10 Mbps down/1 Mbps up, which has allowed Frontier Communications to take millions of dollars from CASF for marginal DSL upgrades. Much of the arm wrestling over SB 1130 is about what the new construction standard would be – it began at 100 Mbps down and up, and has since slid to 25 Mbps down/3 Mbps up. Which is lower than the eligibility standard. Yesterday’s amendments might have resolved that paradox. Might.

SB 1058, by Ben Hueso (D – San Diego) and SB 1069, by Hannah-Beth Jackson (D – Santa Barbara) were aimed at solving some of the problems that have plagued emergency officials during wildfires and public safety power shutoffs during the past few years. Among other things, both would have treated all ISPs the same. Cable companies, mobile carriers and others that have carved out comfortable privileges and immunities for themselves, usually with big cash payments to lawmakers. They opposed SB 1058 and SB 1069 and may have gotten their money’s worth yesterday.

Cable companies, including Charter Communications and Comcast, are using their Sacramento lobbying front to oppose the higher standards in SB 1130 as well. They want to block any hint of a threat to their high speed broadband monopolies. The next stop for SB 1130, whatever the amended version turns out to be, is a vote by the full California senate.

14 ISPs try to block competitors’ broadband upgrades in rural California

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

Road closed 625

Update, 12 June 2020: I found another challenge that I missed the first time around. Valley Internet filed against Web Perception’s Sonoma/Napa project. Comcast also challenged it, so the count is still 34 projects out of 54 facing challenges, with a new total of 17 ISPs filing. I updated the list below, but the live list for CASF project tracking is here.

Update, 10 June 2020: A late notice, from Succeed, brings the total number of projects challenged to 34 out of 54, and the number of ISPs filing challenges to 16. The updated list is below. Going forward, I’ll be updating and tracking the project proposals and challenges here.

Update, 9 June 2020: Another challenge – by Exwire to Charter’s Kingswood Estates project – surfaced overnight. It’s now 15 ISPs challenging a total of 32 projects, with many of those projects facing multiple challenges.

More than half of the projects proposed for infrastructure subsidies from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) were challenged yesterday. Competing Internet service providers submitted various claims regarding their broadband offerings in at least some of the project areas proposed for 31 of the 54 grant applications submitted in May.

Thanks to lobbying by big monopoly model incumbents, like AT&T and Comcast, and their non-profit fellow travellers, CASF money can’t pay for broadband upgrades if service in a particular place is already available at dismal 6 Mbps download/1 Mbps upload speeds. There are other restrictions as well. The rules give ISPs a five week window to prepare and submit their challenges, and 14 did by the deadline. Or at least submitted public notifications that they did so. A summary and links to the filings are below. I’m not betting that the list is complete, though. Notifications, as opposed to the actual confidential filings, sometimes trickle in late.

Some of the challenges appear to be legitimate, but others range from petulant complaints to unenforceable promises of service Real Soon Now. Nine of the 14 challengers are wireless Internet service providers, including Digital Path, which submitted an even dozen protests, almost twice as many as any other ISP. Some of the challenges are based on the incorrect notion that areas that received money from the old federal Connect America Fund broadband subsidy program will be ineligible for CASF grants – that carve out is based on grant approvals, not application deadlines, and expires at the end of the month, long before any projects can be approved.

Three of the most prolific protestors – Charter Communications, Frontier Communications and Digital Path (Comcast is on that list too) – are also the companies that submitted the most project applications on their own behalf. AT&T did not challenge any projects, or at least hasn’t distributed public notifications to that effect.

California Public Utilities Commission staff have about five months to sort it all out. New procedures put into place last year only allow competitors one chance to block CASF funding for a broadband infrastructure project. Yesterday was it.

Links to the project proposals are here.

Challenges to CASF infrastructure grant applications, 8 June 2020

Number of
ProjectApplicant                          Challenged by
2Bella VistaCharter CommunicationsDigital Path, ShastaBeam
1Kingswood EstatesCharter CommunicationsExwire
1Butte YubaDigital PathSucceed
1Fresno CountyDigital PathComcast
2Glenn CountyDigital PathComcast, Succeed
2Lake CountyDigital PathMediacom, North Coast
1Mendocino CountyDigital PathNorth Coast
1Plumas LassenDigital PathFrontier
1Sacramento CountyDigital PathFrontier
1Sutter PlacerDigital PathSucceed
1Tehama CountyDigital PathCharter
2Central Coast BroadbandEtheric NetworksCharter, Razzolink
1Kingswood WestExwireCharter
1Crescent CityFrontier CommunicationsCharter
1CuyamaFrontier CommunicationsGeolinks
1GarbervilleFrontier Communications101Netlink
2HerlongFrontier CommunicationsDigital Path, Plumas Sierra
1Lake IsabellaFrontier CommunicationsGeolinks
2Mad RiverFrontier Communications101Netlink, Velocity
2Northeast Phase 2Frontier CommunicationsDigital Path, Geolinks
2PiercyFrontier Communications101Netlink, Willits Online
5Mendocino CountyHunter Communications101Netlink, Comcast, Frontier, North Coast, Willits Online
1Buckeye/BannerNevada County FiberDigital Path
1Long ValleyPlumas Sierra TelecomsDigital Path
1Mohawk ValleyPlumas Sierra TelecomsDigital Path
1PortolaPlumas Sierra TelecomsDigital Path
1Scott RoadPlumas Sierra TelecomsGeolinks
1Sierra ValleyPlumas Sierra TelecomsDigital Path
3Southern LassenPlumas Sierra TelecomsDigital Path, Frontier, Geolinks
1Gigafy ArbuckleRace TelecommunicationsFrontier
2Gigafy Nevada CityRace TelecommunicationsCalnet, Digital Path
4Gigafy WilliamsRace TelecommunicationsComcast, Digital Path, Frontier, Succeed
2Sonoma/NapaWeb PerceptionComcast, Valley Internet
3West Sonoma CountyWiConduitComcast, Digital Path, Frontier

The Central Coast Broadband Consortium (CCBC) supported Charter’s San Benito County proposal and assisted Etheric Networks with its application. The Connected Capital Area Broadband Consortium (CCABC) assisted DigitalPath. I assisted the CCBC and the CCABC, and also kibitzed on other projects. I’m not a disinterested commentator. Take it for what it’s worth.