Shasta County wireless broadband proposal goes to CPUC

17 April 2014 by Steve Blum
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A $2.2 million proposal for a wireless broadband and telephone system in the mountains of Shasta County will be going in front of the California Public Utilities Commission next month. Commissioners will be considering a draft resolution released earlier this week that would approve a grant from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to San Diego-based Shasta County Telecom. The plan is to build three new towers that would be positioned to reach about 1,400 homes. According to the draft

Shasta proposes to bring broadband services to north of Bella Vista, Round Mountain, Montgomery Creek and Lake Margaret areas of Shasta County. Currently, the project area is primarily unserved by wireline technology and underserved by fixed wireless and mobile broadband. According to Shasta, there are an estimated 500 households within the project area that do not have telephone service available. The Shasta Project proposes to provide fixed wireless broadband and telephone services by installing fixed wireless transmitters and infrastructure on three mountain tops in Shasta County: Bear Mountain, Hatchet Mountain, and Round Mountain, in order to provide high speed Internet service over a 331 square mile area. Shasta plans to obtain backhaul capabilities from Level 3 Communications and the telephone central office, connection to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), and Emergency 911 network will be located in an offsite co-location facility located in San Diego, California.

On paper at least, Shasta’s pricing plan is a genuine bargain. They’re proposing to offer Internet service at 20 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload speeds for $20 a month and telephone service for $10 a month. As is standard with CASF-subsidised projects, the price commitments – including zero installation cost – are good for two years.

There’s no guarantee, though, that all the homes in the mountainous area will be able to link to the towers, with or without a sufficiently good connection to support those speeds, nor there is there any mention of the total capacity of the network.

Commissioners are scheduled to vote on the project at their 15 May 2014 meeting.

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.