Race is on for five CASF proposals

Race’s High Desert project area, in the Tehachapi Pass area, west of the town of Tehachapi.

Last October, Race Telecommunications asked for $13 million from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to build fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) systems in the desert towns of Mojave and Boron. The areas proposed were not completely unserved by CASF definitions – as required in the October round – so they’re back with expanded plans.

Race has five projects on the table now, totaling $38 million in grant requests. The Mojave and Boron projects were resubmitted, but the ask is about $4 million less. To that mix, Race added FTTH systems in California City ($11.6 million), in three communities in the Tehachapi Pass area – Stallion Springs, Bear Valley Springs and Golden Hills ($13.2 million) – and four areas in Mono County between Bishop and Mammoth Lakes ($4.7 million).

The Mono County proposal is completely new, the other four – all in Kern County – were originally developed four years ago with the federal stimulus program in mind.

The project areas for the Mojave and Boron proposals are the same as in October. I don’t know what was cut back – the decrease is more than changing from “unserved” to “underserved” would require. Both areas show largely as “served” on CPUC maps, which means Race has to submit evidence refuting that designation. They faced this problem last time. California City poses the same challenge.

The Tehachapi Pass and Mono County proposals, though, are in areas the CPUC already defines as underserved. Incumbent carriers can argue the point, as they did in October, but the burden of proof is on them.

Race has a successful track record with CASF projects, finishing a funded fiber network at the Mojave Airport last year. Expanding their footprint in Eastern California is a logical next step.

Tellus Venture Associates assisted with several CASF proposals in the current round, so I’m not a disinterested commentator. Take it for what it’s worth.