AT&T not on FCC’s list of potential RDOF bidders, but 505 others are

3 September 2020 by Steve Blum
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Paicines pole route

AT&T is not on the list of 505 would-be rural broadband subsidy bidders released by the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday. It’s also not listed as a member of any of the 38 consortia – bidding groups – and none of the other 467 contenders are obviously AT&T subsidiaries. None of the FCC registration numbers directly held by AT&T match up to any of the listed bidders either.

It’s difficult to prove a negative, but so far it appears that absence of evidence is also evidence of absence.… More

Killing broadband upgrade bill is good business for California assembly leaders

2 September 2020 by Steve Blum
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Printing money us treasury image

Money matters in Sacramento, and the more ambitious the politician, the more it matters. The two men primarily responsible for killing senate bill 1130, which would have raised California’s broadband speed standard – assemblymen Anthony Rendon (D – Los Angeles) and Ian Calderon (D – Los Angeles) – hold high office, assembly speaker and democratic floor leader respectively. It comes at a high price.

In his eight years in and running for the assembly, Rendon has been paid a total of $9 million by a wide range of special interests, according to the FollowTheMoney.orgMore

AT&T, cable company money buys obedience from California assembly, and slow broadband for everyone else

1 September 2020 by Steve Blum
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Liberty whip 625

A last minute push to convince democratic leaders in the California assembly to allow a vote on raising the state’s minimum broadband speed standard failed last night in the final, chaotic hours of the regular 2020 legislative session. If you can get – well, are offered – broadband service at 6 Mbps download/1 Mbps upload speeds, you are still considered adequately served under California law. Which adequately serves the monopoly business model needs of AT&T, Comcast, Charter Communications and the other big, incumbent broadband providers who blocked the vote.… More

Kids don’t need fast broadband if they have fast food, California assembly says

31 August 2020 by Steve Blum
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Salinas taco bell broadband

Gratitude to the Taco Bell workers in Salinas who cared, and props to Monterey County supervisor and former assemblyman Luis Alejo for the photo.

Democratic party leaders in the California assembly iced a bill yesterday that would have raised the state’s broadband standard to modern speed levels. Speaker Anthony Rendon (D – Los Angeles) bowed to pressure – and bags of cash – from AT&T, Comcast, Charter Communications and other monopoly model incumbents, and blocked senate bill 1130 from a floor vote in the California assembly.… More

“Virtual separation” of Frontier’s fiber systems could mean actual abandonment of rural Californians

26 August 2020 by Steve Blum
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San benito pole route 13apr2019

The gap between urban fiber haves and rural have nots could grow wider in California as a result of Frontier Communications’ bankruptcy settlement. Its reorganisation plan was filed with the California Public Utilities Commission yesterday, after receiving approval from the federal judge in New York overseeing the bankruptcy proceeding.

The plan turns ownership over to banks and financiers who hold billions of dollars of Frontier’s now worthless debt. A cryptic paragraph buried deep in the plan calls for Frontier to develop a “detailed” proposal for a “virtual separation” of “select state operations” where the new owners “will conduct fiber deployments” from other operations in those states which will be blessed with vague “broadband upgrades and operational improvements”.… More

Showdown time for California’s broadband future

24 August 2020 by Steve Blum
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Tombstone 625

Like a gut shot gunfighter with nothing to lose, assembly bill 570 is both doomed and dangerous. Amendments made by the California senate’s appropriations committee were posted late on Friday: all new money for broadband infrastructure subsidies was stripped out. What remain are the monopoly protection privileges inserted by lobbyists for big telecoms companies, and the slabs of pork they’re tossing to their faithful followers.

AB 570 is authored by assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D – Yolo), but ghostwritten by the California Emerging Technology Fund, an incumbent-funded and advised non-profit.… More

California legislators lean toward faster broadband standard, as committees wrap up work

21 August 2020 by Steve Blum
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Cvin fiber marker sr49

Two competing broadband infrastructure bills faced final committee votes yesterday in the California legislature. Both passed on party line votes – democrats yes, republicans no – with changes on the way that might bridge the gap between them. Maybe for the good of all. Maybe.

Funding restrictions imposed on senate bill 1130 by the senate’s appropriations committee in June were removed by the assembly’s appropriations committee, apparently by mutual consent. SB 1130, carried by senator Lena Gonzalez (D – Los Angeles), would raise California’s broadband standard to fiber-ish 25 Mbps download and upload speeds.… More

Broadband consortium facing false reporting, contempt charges skids into CPUC hearing

19 August 2020 by Steve Blum
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For more than five years, the California Public Utilities Commission has wrangled with a consortium of five Los Angeles community organisations over a $450,000 grant that was supposed to be used to produce particular broadband education programs. Three of those groups were exonerated in tentative settlements reached with CPUC enforcement staff. Another agreed to pay a fine. But the fifth – Community Union – is contesting accusations of, among other things, “false claims”, “false reports”, “inadequate and incomplete” record keeping, and “adamantly” refusing to provide documentation to CPUC staff and to auditors from the state controller’s office.… More

California broadband subsidy bill goes from farce to tragedy as Big Telecom gets right of the first night

13 August 2020 by Steve Blum
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Braveheart jus primae noctis

To ensure that money from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) doesn’t go to independent Internet service providers who might loosen cable’s and telco’s monopoly/duopoly grip on Californians’ broadband access, the newly amended assembly bill 570 gives incumbents a right of first refusal over any subsidised broadband infrastructure project proposed by anyone in their footprints.

A small tweak to the bill’s language gives cable and telephone companies a huge competitive advantage over independent ISPs. Current rules define grant eligibility on the basis of the infrastructure and service that’s available right now.… More

Taxing a dying business and giving the money to Big Telecoms’ friends won’t get kids to school

11 August 2020 by Steve Blum
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One room school

California’s broadband infrastructure subsidy program is about to run out of money. With $145 million left in the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) under current assumptions, and $533 million in pending project proposals, it’s likely to go dry this year, even as schools go completely online.

The problem isn’t the 2022 end of the program’s funding mechanism, as one bill sitting in the California legislature claims. Assembly bill 570 is ghostwritten by the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), an incumbent-funded and advised non-profit, and carried by assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D – Yolo), who is also well paid by AT&T, cable companies and other industry interests.… More