Comments from 29 groups regarding CASF changes go into the official record

The dust has settled from the first round of comments regarding the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) consideration of new rules for California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) eligibility. Not everyone who filed made it through the screening process.

Last week, a total of 17 filings involving 35 organizations were submitted. Five [updated] were rejected by the CPUC’s legal department because of various mistakes. The CPUC has strict rules regarding who, when and how comments on proceeding are to be made.… More

Expanded CASF eligibility receives support, opposition, skepticism and suggestions

At last count, thirty-five [updated] organizations filed opening comments regarding the California Public Utility Commission’s (CPUC) review of eligibility rules for grants and loans from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF).

The pro/con split was reasonably even, with 19 organizations generally supporting the idea of opening up CASF eligibility to all comers and 16 more or less opposed to it.

The CPUC’s own Division of Ratepayer Advocates is voicing the strongest opposition:

DRA commentsThere is no guarantee that non-licensed entities will build more cost-effective projects, more last mile projects, and better middle mile projects, especially since such entities likely have no demonstrated expertise in telecommunications or in building broadband facilities.


Hint of daylight for CASF community broadband funding

30 October 2012 by Steve Blum
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Pretty much any organization would be eligible for broadband infrastructure subsidies from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) if the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) follows through on a decision made last week and if the California legislature agrees.

Right now, funding is limited to companies that sell telephone lines (very broadly defined) and hold either a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) or are registered wireless telephone carriers.

Cities, independent Internet service providers, non-traditional telecoms ventures, community organizations and others can’t get funding directly.


California cities upsetting FCC commissioner Ajit Pai

“It was Milton Friedman who recognized years ago that the market provides a better way,” said Ajit Pai, who became an FCC commissioner in May as a Republican nominee. “Our deregulatory approach to wireless has been a success.”

Speaking to MobileCon attendees this afternoon, Pai focused on roadblocks that government can create for telecommunications development, contrasting the lightly regulated wireless sector with the more intrusive approach to wireline carriers taken by the FCC and the 50 states.… More

$13 million CASF grant request for FTTP in Mojave and Boron

Mobile broadband availability in the Mojave-Boron area, as reported by carriers to the CPUC.Another proposal for project funding from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) surfaced over the weekend. Race Telecommunications is proposing to offer fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) service to homes and businesses in the high desert towns of Mojave and Boron, and some surrounding areas.

They’re asking CASF for $6,229,864 for the Mojave segment of the project and $6,780,528 for the Boron piece. The segments are really two halves of the same project, but CASF procedures require separate applications for segments that are not in contiguous areas.


Satellite, DSL projects seek "unserved area" subsidies from CASF

Two DSL extensions and one satellite project are asking for a total of $651,622 in grant funding from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF). The two DSL extensions, proposed by WillitsOnline LLC and its subsidiary company, Rural Broadband Now! LLC, would bring ADSL2+ to homes in the Westport and Boonville areas of Mendocino County. The proposals request $161,500 and $128,000 respectively. Satellite Internet provider ViaSat, Inc. is asking for $362,122 to reach about 700 homes in rural pockets of Monterey County.


Mobile broadband claims don't match truth in California

14 August 2012 by Steve Blum
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The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has finished up its first round of mobile broadband field testing, and the results do not support the marketing claims of the carriers.

Sprint doesn’t hit the CPUC’s 6 Mbps download/1.5 Mbps upload benchmark for adequate service anywhere in California. Verizon does the best at 21% of the state. T-Mobile and AT&T manage 10% and 7% respectively. These real world results are dramatically different from what mobile carriers claim to provide.


High bar for middle mile projects seeking CASF funding

The purpose of the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) is providing Internet service to homes and businesses. Key measures used to evaluate grant and loan applications include the number of households served and the number of new subscribers expected. As a result, funding middle mile projects through CASF is a challenge. In its recent decision revising the CASF program, the California Public Utilities Commission was adamant: it would not support “middle mile to nowhere” projects.

A middle mile project that spans under and unserved areas (as defined by the CPUC), and even served areas, is eligible for CASF funding, however it will be judged using the same criteria as a last mile project.

CASF application requirements amended, first deadline approaching

This morning the California Public Utilities Commission released a new version of its CASF Application Checklist, cleaning up some discrepancies between it and the full text of the decision that made significant revisions to the program last month.

You can download a summary of the current CASF grant program requirements here, and more information, including the CPUC’s latest map of under and unserved areas, is here.


49 California counties chasing broadband gold

15 February 2012 by Steve Blum
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The California Public Utilities Commission approved funding for seven more regional broadband consortia this morning. That brings the total to fourteen consortia representing 49 counties.

All five of the commissioners voted in favor of the grants. In contrast to the first round of funding, this second round vote did not generate any debate. The criteria and conditions that the commission laid out in December 2011 were deemed satisfied.
In line with the goals established by the CPUC, the consortia are focused on building and deploying broadband facilities in unserved and underserved areas of California, improving access to and knowledge of the broadband resources that are already available to Californians, and promoting greater adoption of broadband services.