California broadband grant proposed for FTTH in Nicasio

24 December 2015 by Steve Blum
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The western Marin County town of Nicasio is in the hunt for for a $1.7 million grant from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to build a fiber to the home broadband system. The application was submitted by Inyo Networks, which is involved in several pending CASF project proposals as well as the already operating Digital 395 system. According to the publicly posted summary

The area is fully “wireline unserved” by the [incumbent telephone company] and is not served by a cable television service provider alternative either. Representatives of the community led by the Nicasio Landowners Association (NLOA) have been unsuccessful in efforts to get the incumbent telephone company serving the area to extend broadband services into the Nicasio community and the surrounding area. Once fully built out the proposed project will serve 215 single family dwellings, the Nicasio School (public K-8), Volunteer Fire Department Headquarters, and County Public Works Corporation Yard and two wireless transmitter sites (220 units total) in order to improve wireless services to outlying buildings in the West Marin area.

AT&T is the incumbent telco. There’s no existing cable franchise in Nicasio or the surrounding area, although Comcast claims the more densely populated eastern and southern parts of Marin County. Verizon and AT&T offer mobile service but, according to the California Public Utilities Commission’s online broadband map, neither meets the minimum 6 Mbps down/1.5 Mbps up service level. Whether they fail so miserably that the project area qualifies as being completely unserved, and therefore eligible to have 70% of the construction costs covered by CASF remains to be seen. If not, the subsidy would drop to 60% and the hit to CASF would presumably be $1.5 million.