California broadband rodeo kicks off again

2 January 2017 by Steve Blum
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But no room for a working clown.

Strap in for the ride – 2017 is shaping up to be a Bizarro rerun of 2016, at least where broadband policy is concerned. Last year’s most contentious policy broncos are in the chute, ready for another go round with a new cast of cowboys in Washington and Sacramento.

Top draw is common carrier status for broadband service, also known as title II, AKA net neutrality. The republican rump majority on the Federal Communications Commission – Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly – have targeted the Obama administration’s marquee telecoms policy initiative for a preemptive weed whacking.… More

AT&T copper network replacement presentation video posted

15 September 2016 by Steve Blum
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AT&T’s plan to replace rural copper networks in California with a fixed wireless broadband service running at 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speeds was presented to the Eldorado County board of supervisors two days ago, on 13 September 2016. The conversion will be subsidised by the Federal Communications Commission’s Connect America Fund phase 2 program, which will give AT&T $360 million in California alone, and $2.6 billion nationwide.

The video was streamed live, and I’ve posted a recording to YouTube.… More

AT&T confirms plans to replace California copper service with wireless

14 September 2016 by Steve Blum
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Copper sunset.

AT&T will spend $360 million earmarked for broadband service improvements in rural California on fixed wireless broadband service and not on upgrading or maintaining existing wireline networks. That was the message from Alice Perez, an AT&T staff lobbyist, to the Eldorado County board of supervisors yesterday (h/t to Fred Pilot at the Eldo Telecom blog for the heads up). Nationwide, AT&T is getting a total of $2.6 billion in federal Connect America Fund (CAF) subsidies over six years to upgrade broadband speeds in predominantly rural areas.… 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

LA assemblyman steps up to bat for big telecom

27 June 2016 by Steve Blum
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You’d think he’d be a Dodger fan.

Los Angeles assemblyman Mike Gatto is doubling down on his role as the California legislature’s key player on telecoms policy this season, and he appears to have decided he’s playing on the telephone and cable company team.

As chair of the assembly’s utilities and commerce committee, Gatto blocked a proposal to put more state money into broadband infrastructure – opposed by incumbents because it also empowers competitors – and greased the skids for an AT&T-written bill that would have allowed rural and inner city copper-line networks to be replaced by wireless service.… More

Assembly votes to write the CPUC out of the California constitution

4 June 2016 by Steve Blum
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It’ll be up to the California senate to decide whether or not to put the future of the California Public Utilities Commission on the November general election ballot. The assembly approved assembly constitutional amendment 11 on Thursday. If it gets on the ballot and voters approve it, the CPUC would lose its special constitutional status as an independent agency.

The state legislature would then have to decide how utilities – energy, telecoms, water and transportation – will be regulated in California.… More

Unanimous vote to bring California utility regulation back to Sacramento

31 May 2016 by Steve Blum
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The California assembly has backed off from giving AT&T a free pass to yank out wireline service in less lucrative rural and inner city communities, but it’s moving ahead with a plan to completely re-write the way telecommunications and other utilities are regulated.

On the same day it put AT&T’s copper killer bill on what appears to be terminal hold, the assembly appropriations committee unanimously approved a constitutional amendment that would, in effect, turn utility regulation into just another state function, carried out by departments answerable to the legislature and the governor.… More

AT&T's attempt to rewrite California law shredded by a higher power

28 May 2016 by Steve Blum
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Wrong day to be a shark.

By the formal rules of the California assembly, AT&T’s attempt to reboot its monopoly without regulatory constraints is dead. Yesterday, the assembly’s appropriations committee took assembly bill 2395 out of legislative limbo and sat on it. That means the bill didn’t clear the committee by the official deadline – also yesterday – and can’t move forward without extraordinary maneuvers by legislative leadership.

That’s not likely to happen. The decision to stop AB 2395 instead of keeping it alive would have been made by legislative leaders in the first place.… More

California assembly committee stops AT&T wireline exit, reports say

27 May 2016 by Steve Blum
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Assembly bill 2395 was killed today by the California assembly’s appropriations committee, according to reports from several sources. The Rural Counties Representatives of California website has the most complete info right now. I’m not 100% certain that it’s 100% dead – there are parliamentary tactics that might resuscitate it – but that’s always the case in Sacramento.

AB 2395 would have allowed AT&T to replace insufficiently lucrative wireline systems with wireless service, with no guarantees of broadband access, and escape nearly all regulatory oversight in California.… More

California legislators put overconfident AT&T's wireline exit bill on ice for now

26 May 2016 by Steve Blum
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At least one side came prepared.

AT&T’s campaign to rewrite California law and yank wireline service out of less lucrative rural and inner city communities is in legislative limbo, at least temporarily. The assembly appropriations committee met yesterday to consider assembly bill 2395, which was written by AT&T and carried on its behalf by assemblyman Evan Low (D – Silicon Valley).

I wasn’t in Sacramento for it, but I watched the webcast and it appeared that AT&T and assembly members friendly to its cause were not prepared for the opposition that arose during the meeting, nor the increasingly skeptical responses from committee members that it appeared to generate.… More