California broadband subsidy grants trickle in at the deadline

2 May 2019 by Steve Blum
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Verizon taft 2dec2014

There was no last minute rush yesterday as the window closed for California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) broadband infrastructure grant applications. Only two companies submitted a total of three project proposals. It’s possible that other applications were submitted but not publicly distributed as required, but for now three, plus five from Saturday, are what we have. I’ll take a deeper dive into all of them later, here’s the short version for now:

Frontier submitted two applications, an $11.8 million proposal to extend service to 146 homes in the Lassen and Modoc County communities of Alturas, Ravendale and Standish, and a $1.7 million proposal to reach 235 homes in and/or around Taft in Kern County. That’s a project that will be welcome. Western Kern County is oil country, and was never upgraded to even 1990s vintage DSL by Verizon, which operated the telephone system until it was acquired by Frontier in 2015. The picture above shows some of the mess that Verizon left behind.

I did an infrastructure assessment study for Taft in 2015, which built on a broadband workshop I conducted in 2014. There’s no doubt the need exists.

On the other hand, both of Frontier’s project summaries indicate that the money would be used to upgrade service to households that are not eligible for CASF funding, including some that they’re already receiving federal subsidies to serve.

Cruzio proposes to extend fiber to the home service to 940 low income homes, and the business offices of 13 mobile home parks in the Santa Cruz County communities of Soquel, Pleasure Point and Capitola. The Equal Access Santa Cruz application asks for a $5.3 million grant.

When the five CASF project applications submitted by the Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative last weekend, and Frontier’s proposal for the Colfax and Weimar communities in Placer County submitted late last year are added in, there are now nine grant proposals pending, totalling $27.6 million. With $300 million added to the CASF infrastructure program in 2017, there’s enough money available to fund them all.

Equal Access Santa Cruz, Soquel, Pleasure Point, Capitola (Santa Cruz County)

Frontier Communications
Northeast Project Phase 1 (Lassen and Modoc counties)
Taft Cluster (Kern County)

Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative
Elysian Valley-Johnstonville (Lassen County)
Eureka-Johnsville (Plumas County)
Keddie (Plumas County)
Lake Davis (Plumas County)
Mohawk Vista (Plumas County)

I’m collecting the 2019 CASF infrastructure grant proposals here. Information about the program is here.

The Central Coast Broadband Consortium assisted Cruzio with its Equal Access Santa Cruz grant application, and I was a part of that. I’m not a disinterested commentator. Take it for what it’s worth.