Californian towns redlined by Charter targeted for broadband construction subsidies

12 August 2015 by Steve Blum
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Blue indicates Charter’s state cable franchise areas where it hasn’t upgraded to DOCSIS 3 capability, as it has in the yellow areas.

Race Telecommunications has zeroed in on a big and densely populated area of the San Bernardino County desert that’s been redlined by Charter Communications, and neglected by Verizon. Wireline broadband service in the area generally fails to meet the California Public Utilities Commission’s minimum standard of 6 Mbps down and 1.5 Mbps up. The result is a $48.3 million grant request to the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) for Gigafy Phelan, a proposed fiber to the premise project that would reach 10,000 homes, according to the application filed with the CPUC on Monday.

The project area takes in the communities of Phelan, Pinon Hills, Oak Hills, and Hesperia. It’s in an area of California’s Inland Empire that’s drawn a lot of interest from CASF applicants. The Phelan project sits in between two CASF-funded projects in Wrightwood and Helendale, submitted by Ultimate Internet Access and approved by the CPUC earlier this year. As with Phelan, Charter Communications redlined those areas and refused to build upgraded, broadband capable cable systems, as it has in more affluent communities nearby.

Race is no stranger to the neighborhood, with approved CASF projects to the north at the Mojave Air and Spaceport, the Tehachapi area, Boron and in Mono County.

With a requested construction subsidy of about $4,800 per home, the Gigafy Phelan project falls in the mid-range of CASF requests. The plan is to offer residents service packages that top out at a symmetrical 1 Gbps down and up. The publicly released project summary didn’t include rate information, but Race has offered gigabit service for $60 per month elsewhere.

Click to download the Gigafy Phelan grant proposal summary.