California projects line up for federal ReConnect broadband funds, but competition is stiff

28 April 2020 by Steve Blum
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Torres martinez project area

Five broadband projects in California were proposed for federal agriculture department funding in the second round of ReConnect broadband grant and loan applications. That’s five more than the first round in 2019, so that’s progress of a sort. They’ll compete with more than 200 other projects in other states for $300 in grants and $300 million in loans, plus another $100 million included in the $2 trillion federal covid–19 stimulus bill that’ll be available to projects submitted in both rounds.

In the first round, 146 grant, loan and grant/loan combo applications were filed, for a total ask of $1.4 billion, more than twice the available money. This time around, it’s looking like the ask is something like three times more than what’s in the pot.

Three of the applicants are established Californian Internet service providers. Cox Communications, a cable company that serves the Santa Barbara and San Diego areas, wants money to build out its system in the mountains between Santa Barbara and Solvang. Catalina Broadband Solutions is looking to do the same in Two Harbors on Santa Catalina Island. Inyo Networks submitted several applications for various segments of its Digital 299 middle mile project, which runs through Humboldt, Trinity and Shasta counties and is partially funded by the California Advanced Services Fund.

The Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians are proposing a broadband project for their reservation at the intersection of Imperial, Riverside and San Diego counties, and Kandu Global Telecommunications, a Beverly Hills IT company, submitted an application for a project in a neighborhood near Hi Vista, east of Lancaster in the northern reaches of Los Angeles County.

If you click on the project number, it’ll take you to the USDA’s online listing of the project information and any challenges from incumbents who want to block it. You’ll have to create an account and log in to get full access. That’s no big deal, though.

Project           Company Project Area Counties
PNF–000279 Catalina Broadband Solutions, LLC Two Harbors, Catalina Island Los Angeles
PNF–000386 CoxCom, LLC San Marcos Pass Santa Barbara
PNF–000353 Inyo Networks, Inc. Digital 299 Humboldt, Shasta, Trinity
PNF–000344 Kandu Global Telecommunications Inc. Hi Vista Los Angeles
PNF–000385 Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians Torres Martinez Reservation Imperial, Riverside, San Diego