California broadband subsidy fund is maxed out

21 September 2016 by Steve Blum
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The California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) is just about topped up. The fund is used to subsidise new infrastructure in areas that lack broadband service that meets the California Public Utilities Commission’s minimum standard of 6 Mbps download and 1.5 Mbps upload speeds. It’s also used to pay for broadband facilities and marketing programs in public housing and to fund regional broadband consortia.

The money for it comes from a tax that’s assessed on telephone bills – right now, it’s about one-half of one percent of the charges for in-state telecommunications services.… More

Scraping up California legislature's telecoms road kill

12 July 2016 by Steve Blum
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The big impact telecoms legislation proposed so far in Sacramento this year is dead, the victim of opposition and inattention. That’s not to belittle the handful of telecoms bills awaiting action in August, but nothing that’s on the table right now would have the sweeping impact of some of the ones that didn’t make it.

Top of list was assembly bill 2395, a measure custom written by AT&T and carried by Evan Low, an accomodating assemblyman from Silicon Valley.… More

The week AT&T, cable lobbyists ran up the score in Sacramento

25 April 2016 by Steve Blum
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It could have been a winning week (or two) for broadband infrastructure advocates in the California capitol, but instead last week turned into a victory march for AT&T and cable lobbyists as they fought to further entrench the cosy monopoly/duopoly conditions that underpin their business models. I’ve been blogging more or less on a play by play basis, but I think it’d be helpful to try to pull it briefly together.

It comes down to four key assembly bills, all of which landed in the assembly utilities and commerce committee over the past couple of weeks:

AB 1758 – an effort by Santa Cruz democrat Mark Stone to raise California’s broadband standard to 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds, and put $350 million into the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) for infrastructure upgrade subsidies and a variety of other programs.… More

LA legislator is key player for California telecoms policy

24 April 2016 by Steve Blum
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Hardball, fast ball or screw ball?

Four consequential broadband bills approached a key committee in the California assembly over the past couple of weeks, with permissive regulations for incumbents making first base on a walk, and subsidies and rules that favor competitors striking out.

Mike Gatto, a democrat from Los Angeles and the chairman of the utilities and commerce committee, was on the pitching mound for all four bills. He’s the driving force behind a push to put a simple thumbs up or thumbs down vote on the future of the California Public Utilities Commission onto the November ballot, and the gatekeeper who waved through AT&T’s bid to end rural wireline service, while stopping a plan to re-energise broadband infrastructure subsidies by adding money and raising the state’s minimum standard to 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds (and, it should be said, adding money to several non-infrastructure programs as well).… More

AT&T, cable lobbyists gut California broadband subsidies

20 April 2016 by Steve Blum
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Broadband infrastructure subsidies are off the table in Sacramento, thanks to a coordinated campaign by AT&T staff lobbyists and the cable industry’s political front organisation, the California Cable and Telecommunications Association (CCTA). Assembly bill 1758 was pulled by its author, assemblyman Mark Stone (D – Santa Cruz) after it became clear that the California assembly’s utilities and commerce committee was going to spike it at its meeting this afternoon.

Originally, AB 1758 would have put $150 million into the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) broadband construction subsidy account, and another $200 million in a range of broadband-related programs, including service for hospitals, facilities in public housing, digital literacy and marketing efforts and regional consortia.… More

AT&T writes its own permission slip to end California wireline service

23 March 2016 by Steve Blum
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Cheaper to chop than fix.

AT&T wants to rip out its copper phone networks in California and sell wireless voice and broadband service instead. Its lobbyists in Sacramento wrote a bill – assembly bill 2395 – that would give AT&T blanket permission to shut down regulated plain old telephone service and replace it with whatever kind of unregulated technology it deems most profitable.

For customers lucky enough to live in a high potential area – someplace dense enough with customers and cash to make wireline service sufficiently lucrative – that’ll mean voice over Internet protocol phone service running on one flavor or another of DSL broadband.… More

AT&T tries $100 million grab from California taxpayers

21 March 2016 by Steve Blum
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AT&T wants to change California law so that it can take $100 million from taxpayers, for broadband service that’s considered unacceptable under state standards. Assembly bill 2130 was rewritten by AT&T lobbyists and re-introduced last week. It would 1. freeze the current California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) broadband infrastructure subsidy program, 2. authorise the collection of $100 million more from taxpayers, 3. distribute it according to byzantine rules that all but guarantee that the money would go to AT&T to spend as it pleases, while 4.… More

Big buck proposal for California broadband aims for wide appeal

4 February 2016 by Steve Blum
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More money to build broadband infrastructure in California is back on the table, along with even more money for other broadband-related initiatives. Assembly bill 1758 was introduced at the state capitol by assemblyman Mark Stone (D – Santa Cruz) this week. It’s a new and improved and greatly enlarged version of last year’s effort to put more money in the California Advanced Services Fund, and raise the minimum broadband standards it supports.

AB 1758 would more than double the size of the fund, raising it from its current maximum of $315 million to an eventual $665 million.… More