CETF zeros in on Californian broadband subsidy priorities

12 November 2014 by Steve Blum
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About 200 broadband-starved communities in California have been identified as priority areas for subsidised infrastructure builds. The list was put together by regional broadband consortia funded through the California Advanced Services Fund, which is also intended to be the source of the money to do the construction work.

Even though there’s something like $160 million available in CASF to spend on broadband upgrades, that’s not anything like enough to pay for 200 projects. Even if Internet service providers were interested in picking up their share of the cost, which is nominally something like 30% to 40% of the construction budget.… More

California shut out of rural community broadband grants, again

23 October 2014 by Steve Blum
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Can’t see California from here.

For the third year running, the U.S. department of agriculture passed over California while handing out Community Connect grants, a program run by the Rural Utilities Service. The agency released a list of 8 relatively small broadband projects that will be getting a total of $13.7 million. None of which are in California.

It’s possible, of course, that there were no applications submitted from here. I’ve been looking around on the web to see if that info has been published anywhere, but no joy so far.… More

Everyone's picking on us, Comcast tells FCC

26 September 2014 by Steve Blum
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Comcast has slammed back at critics of its proposed mega merger and market swap with Time-Warner and Charter. In a filing with the FCC, Comcast played the victim, claiming that companies and organisations that oppose the deal are just trying to feather their nests at its expense.

The California Emerging Technology Fund’s criticism of the Internet Essentials program in particular got under Comcast’s typically thin corporate skin. CETF submitted well-documented comments showing how the program – intended to provide affordable Internet service to low income families – is more sham than show.… More

Comcast apologises for beating up customers, all the way to the bank

23 July 2014 by Steve Blum
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You want to cancel? Squirt a few first.

Comcast’s senior management had a mommy/daddy moment this week. On Monday, COO Dave Watson sent a memo to employees saying basically that the viral recording of a Comcast customer service rep browbeating a subscriber who wanted to cancel was a wee bit over the top, but hey, we understand…

The agent on this call did a lot of what we trained him and paid him — and thousands of other Retention agents — to do.


Comcast's broken promises detailed in letter to FCC

22 July 2014 by Steve Blum
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“Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”

The California Emerging Technology Fund and a long list of affiliated groups want the FCC to force Comcast to live up its own commitments, if the proposed merger with Time-Warner Cable and the market swaps with Charter Communications are approved. In a letter to the commissioners and supporting documents, CETF blasts the way Comcast has handled a program – called Internet Essentials – it claimed would give $10 per month Internet service to low income families with children…

In 3 years, Comcast has signed up only 11% of the eligible households in California and the nation.


Californians with better Internet infrastructure have a better life, and vice versa

9 July 2014 by Steve Blum
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Bling is no substitute for bandwidth.

Statewide quantitative research done by the Field Poll on behalf of the California Emerging Technology Fund shows that most Californian adults – 86% – use the Internet “at least occasionally”. Most – 75% – have some kind of Internet access at home. But the way they access the Internet at home is also a good predictor of mainstream status.

Nearly all adults between 18 and 29, or with a college degree, or making $60,000 a year or better have Internet access at home.… More

No progress made in closing California's digital divide

8 July 2014 by Steve Blum
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If you’re a Californian who’s college age or even just a twenty-something, or you’re any age at all and you have a college degree, or if you’re making $60,000 or more a year, then it’s almost certain you’re on the Internet. If that’s not you, then not so much.

That’s the conclusion of a Field Poll conducted for the California Emerging Technology Fund that put some harder numbers on the digital divide here. The research, released today, showed that that core demographic groups – young, educated and/or making a reasonable living – are over the 95% mark in terms of Internet adoption.… More

Transforming the East Bay with a 21st century broadband infrastructure

1 November 2013 by Steve Blum
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Would you allow it?

“We just cannot do this without the right infrastructure and we’ll just have to go elsewhere. We don’t want to go elsewhere, but it is what it is,” said K.G. Charles-Harris, CEO of Emanio, a Berkeley-based business intelligence company that needs two things: fat broadband pipes and the talent it attracts. “As a business guy what’s important is to invest and grow, and to invest and grow you need people.”

He was speaking at an East Bay Economic Development Alliance meeting in Pleasanton, California on Wednesday, as a regional plan for broadband infrastructure development was presented by Sunne Wright McPeak, CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund.… More

Google says tear down local policy barriers to get faster broadband

28 October 2013 by Steve Blum
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No red tape to be seen.

“In Kansas City, my crews don’t wait for inspectors, the inspectors wait for them”, said Milo Medin, the head of Google Fiber. “We work with communities that make it easy for us. if you make it hard on us, enjoy your cable connection.”

Medin spoke last week to organisations funded by the California Emerging Technology Fund at a meeting hosted by Google in Mountain View. His message was that upgrading broadband infrastructure, improving service and lowering costs is an economic driver that should be proactively supported by policy makers and public agencies.… More

Santa Cruz County broadband policy initiative becomes a model for California

22 October 2013 by Steve Blum
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Santa Cruz innovation gains traction in California.

The effort to clear obstacles to better broadband infrastructure in Santa Cruz County was widely praised by local elected officials and telecoms company representatives from across California, at a two day conference in Sacramento last week, organised by the California Emerging Technology Fund and Valley Vision.

“It’s a very effective process”, said Marc Blakeman, an AT&T staff lobbyist who spoke to the eighty-plus people in attendance. As the roundtable discussion turned to local challenges in other parts of the state, elected leaders repeatedly cited Santa Cruz County’s broadband infrastructure policy as a model to follow.… More