CPUC considers making rural broadband experiments 10% sweeter

14 August 2014 by Steve Blum
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Proposals for FCC-funded rural broadband experiments in California will get an extra, and automatic, 10% subsidy, if the California Public Utilities Commission approves new draft rules released earlier this week.

As currently written, the resolution

Pre-authorizes CASF monies for any California projects that the FCC selects and provides for such projects to be subject to the FCC Rural Broadband Experiments rules, not the CASF program rules. California applicants interested in participating in these Experiments must file with the FCC by October 13, 2014. The funds would be provided as ten percent match per project, which the California Public Utilities Commission…will contribute if the FCC allocates funds to California for the Experiments. If no federal funds are directed towards California, then this Resolution would not apply.

Under this plan, any FCC applicant can simply assume that the CASF match will be there, and write it into the business plan. That’s significant because the FCC plans to pick the winners based on cost-effectiveness. The more Californian money in a proposal, the lower the need for federal funds and the greater the cost effectiveness, from the FCC’s perspective.

The CPUC wants California to get at least $10 million of the $100 million that the FCC has earmarked for the rural broadband experiments. That’s a share based roughly on California’s population as a percentage of the U.S. as a whole.

The FCC program isn’t a free-for-all. Only certified telephone companies – with a certificate of public convenience and necessity and a designation as an eligible telecommunications carrier – can get the money.

The CPUC is taking comments on the draft resolution until 26 August 2014.