In a first, Gonzales, California provides free, city-funded Internet service to every home, with unique two year T-Mobile deal

22 April 2020 by Steve Blum
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Every household in Gonzales, California can get free Internet access, courtesy of the City of Gonzales. So can families that live outside the city limits that have students attending school there. So far, more than 1,200 households of the approximately 2,000 households in and around Gonzales have taken up the offer. Gonzales students can get online and use school district-provided Chromebooks to keep up with their lessons, despite being locked down during the covid–19 emergency.… More

Two-thirds of California families say they need help getting their kids online

21 April 2020 by Steve Blum
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Some California students have access to the tools they need to keep up with lessons while locked down at home, but many, particularly those in low income households, don’t. That’s the finding of a survey of California parents conducted by the Education Trust West (h/t to Scott Lay at Around the Capitol for the pointer).

Kids don’t have the computers or tablets to do the word, and those who do can’t connect. Respondents said there are too few devices available in the home, only about third said that schools are providing take-home equipment to their kids.… More

CPUC antes up $5 million for student hotspots and laptops, but the pot’s not right yet

20 April 2020 by Steve Blum
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A plan to spend $5 million on mobile hotspots and inexpensive Chromebook-class laptops, for students to use at home while schools are shut down during the covid–19 emergency, is set for a 7 May 2020 vote by the California Public Utilities Commission. Comments on the draft resolution are due 27 April 2020.

The California Department of Education (CDE) would manage the money and target schools that have the greatest need.

The draft resolution and the original request from CDE are a bit vague on the definition of a hotspot.… More

Quick changes coming for California broadband subsidy fund to plug covid-19 gaps

14 April 2020 by Steve Blum
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More money might soon be flowing from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to meet critical broadband service needs that have been given renewed attention because of the covid–19 emergency and the need for everyone to conduct business and educate kids, along with everything else that’s moved online. A request for ideas on how to make faster and better use of CASF in response to the emergency was sent out by the California Public Utilities Commission last month.… More

Urban networks showed strain but generally held up as Californians began sheltering in place

30 March 2020 by Steve Blum

Most broadband networks in urban California managed the load well as covid–19 shelter in place orders began taking effect, according to speed data analysed by BroadbandNow, a broadband sales website. The underlying data came from Measurement Lab, an open source Internet monitoring project that includes universities, foundations and major tech corporations among its members.

BroadbandNow compared the median download speed in the 200 largest U.S. cities (34 of which are in California) during the week of 15 to 21 March 2020 to the median speed range for the prior weeks of 2020.… More

The $2 trillion covid-19 stimulus bill is not a broadband bill, but it helps. A little

27 March 2020 by Steve Blum
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Update, 27 March 2020: president Trump signed the bill, it’s a done deal.

Update, 27 March 2020: the U.S. house of representatives approved the bill, it now goes to president Trump.

A vote on the $2 trillion federal covid–19 stimulus bill is expected in the U.S. house of representatives later today, and president Trump says he’ll sign it immediately. I also found the full text of the bill, as published by the U.S. senate’s appropriations committee.… More

Federal covid-19 stimulus package doesn’t seem to stimulate broadband, much

26 March 2020 by Steve Blum
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Even by Washington, D.C. standards, $2 trillion is a lot of money. By those same standards, though, $325 million isn’t much and that appears to be the extent of direct broadband assistance in the $2 trillion covid–19 “stimulus” bill approved by the U.S. senate late last night. If there’s indirect broadband help, it’s buried in the bill’s yet-to-be-published text.

According to a summary obtained by Bloomberg Law yesterday, the bill adds $100 million to a broadband infrastructure program run by the federal agriculture department’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS), as well as $200 million to the Federal Communications Commission’s telehealth subsidy kitty and $25 million for a telehealth and distance learning program, also managed by RUS.… More

California’s mountain counties get failing broadband grades, urban areas top the report card

25 March 2020 by Steve Blum
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The worst broadband infrastructure in California is, not surprisingly, found in mountain counties at the north end of the state. Trinity and Siskiyou counties both get “F” grades for broadband infrastructure, with a numerical score of dead zero. Sierra County likewise gets an “F”, with a numerical score of 0.03 that’s effectively zero. It is also the county with the highest percentage of population – 88% – without any access to wireline broadband service. It’s a serious problem for rural residents as business, education, health care and education move almost exclusively online during the covid–19 lockdown.… More

CPUC extends CASF grant deadline, also orders telecoms companies to disclose covid-19 response plans

24 March 2020 by Steve Blum
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Broadband companies will get an extra month to submit applications for broadband infrastructure grants from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF). Originally, the proposals were due next week, on 1 April 2020. That deadline is now 4 May 2020, and the subsequent timeline for challenges and decisions also bumped by five weeks, per a memo from California Public Utilities Commission director Alice Stebbins.

It’s a necessary step (and – full disclosure – one I advocated for).… More

California’s broadband gaps affect millions as corona virus lockdown continues

23 March 2020 by Steve Blum
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At least 1.5 million Californians – 4% of the state’s population – cannot get wireline broadband in their homes, as the second week of the corona virus lock down begins. That’s what the most recently published broadband availability reports filed with the California Public Utilities Commission show. Nearly twice that many – 2.8 million people, 8% of the population – don’t have access to primary wireline service that delivers 100 Mbps download/20 Mbps upload speeds, the minimum service level needed for in-home work, education, health care and entertainment.… More