Eastern California gets more FTTH love

2 January 2015 by Steve Blum
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Race Telecommunications is on the way to becoming the fiber king of eastern California. On New Year’s Eve, Race submitted 3 more grant applications to California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for fiber-to-the-home projects in Mono, Inyo and eastern Kern counties: Gigafy Backus, Gigafy Mono and Gigafy North 395.

Backus – actually, the Backus Road area – is south of the Mojave Air and Space Port, where Race received its first grant from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) in 2010. You can read more about Race’s history in California’s high desert region here.

The Gigafy Mono project is made up of a scattering of small Mono County towns and neighborhoods – Lee Vining, Mono City, Benton, Swall Meadows and South Chalafant. Gigafy North 395 includes the towns of Bridgeport and Walker at the north end of the county.

With projects also approved in Boron, the Tehachapi area and in a handful of other small Mono County communities, and another application already submitted for 5 other small towns in the Ridgecrest area, Race appears to following a consolidation strategy: find under or unserved population pockets along the Digital 395 middle mile corridor or near its existing service area in Mojave and move in with FTTH service.

It’s not a lot of people. Race didn’t publicly disclose how many homes would be served by its proposed projects, but eyeballing the maps and census block group data it submitted, a fair guess is that the four proposals Race has submitted (so far) in the current round of CASF funding account for somewhere in the ballpark of two or three thousand homes. The total ask is $23.4 million, or something like $7,000 to $10,000 per household passed. That’s not an outrageous number in the CASF universe – in the past, the CPUC has approved subsidies north of $50,000 per household.

So going into 2015, there are a total of 8 CASF proposals in front of the CPUC , including fiber, fiber/wireless hybrid and satellite technologies, totalling $53.3 million. That’s against total available funds in the $160 million range.