California’s primary broadband infrastructure subsidy program – the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) – ends 2020 with a dwindling account balance and many unanswered questions about how that money will be spent. Last week, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a $7.6 million grant to Race Communications for a fiber to the premise (FTTP) project in Williams, in Colusa County, and a $3.7 million grant to the Plumas Sierra electric cooperative for a project, also FTTP, in Lassen and Sierra counties.… More
Almost final rules for topping up federal broadband subsidies with money from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) were published on Friday. The draft decision, authored by CPUC commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves, tracks with the most recent “kicker” program proposal floated by California Public Utilities Commission staff.
The big question remains: will it have any practical effect? The Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction is over. The kind of broadband service providers the CPUC hoped to attract with its kicker program – gigabit-class fiber to the premise operators with open access business models and a commitment to low income and universal service obligations – are not well represented on the list of auction winners.… More
The fight over California’s broadband future resumed in Sacramento on Monday, with the battle line unchanged from August’s stalemate. As expected, senator Lena Gonzalez (D – Los Angeles) introduced senate bill 4, which sunsets the current, anaemic California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) program, and replaces it with a more robust broadband bond program aimed at local agencies. It reflects the compromise between Gonzalez, her fellow senators and the governor’s office in the closing days of the 2020 legislative session.… More
Broadband providers won subsidies for nearly all of the eligible California homes and businesses in the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction, which concluded last month. But those subsidies total only a third of the theoretical dollars on offer. That’s pretty much what happened in the rest of the U.S., too.
Most of California’s winning bidders in the reverse auction were wireless Internet service providers (WISPs), and most claimed to be capable of delivering what the FCC calls “gigabit” service: 1,000 Mbps download/500 Mbps upload speeds.… More
Broadband infrastructure and financing reform will be one of the first policy initiatives out of the gate when bills start dropping at the California capitol on Monday. Senator Lena Gonzalez (D – Los Angeles) will introduce a measure that picks up where the effort to pass senate bill 1130 left off in September. Gonzalez and her fellow senators reached an agreement with governor Gavin Newsom on how California should subsidise broadband infrastructure and what minimum service levels should be, but SB 1130 died when assembly leaders killed it, as AT&T and cable companies pay them to do.… More
T-Mobile will pay a $200 million fine to clear Sprint’s bad conduct off of the Federal Communication Commission’s books, but the deal doesn’t include repayment of state subsidies that the company took for low income “lifeline” customers who weren’t actually using the service. T-Mobile assumed responsibility for Sprint’s lifeline service – Assurance Mobile – when it took over Sprint earlier this year. The violations of the subsidy rules and improper collection of “tens of millions of dollars” from the FCC’s lifeline piggy bank happened before the merger but came to light while the FCC and the California Public Utilities Commission were reviewing it.… More
Not every project proposed for a broadband infrastructure grant from the California Advanced Services Fund that could have been waved through and approved administratively was. Nine grant requests from Charter Communications received a “ministerial” blessing, but a proposal from Digital Path was bucked to the five CPUC commissioners for a decision.
Digital Path wants $415,000 from CASF for fixed wireless facilities to cover 279 homes, mostly in Sutter County, with a few in Placer County. Cover, not necessarily serve.… More
Updated 10:01 a.m.
New rules for the California Public Utilities Commission’s proposed contribution – aka “kicker” – to the federal Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) were published this morning.
Changes include an offer of “up to 30%” of the Federal Communications Commission’s ten year “reserve price” for “all RDOF census block groups”, with a guarantee that 10% of the FCC reserve price will be available to Internet service providers that win subsidies for census block groups that are on the previously published list of particularly disadvantaged communities.… More
Autonomous vehicles (AVs) transported passengers more than 900,000 miles in California during the past two years, as part of a pilot program approved by the California Public Utilities Commission in 2018. Most of those miles were logged by Waymo, Google’s AV subsidiary. All of those trips were free and all were with a human driver onboard – no AV company opted to test truly driverless service, with monitoring by a remote operator.
That’s about to change.… More
Broadband infrastructure subsidies from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) were approved on a fast track basis earlier this month for nine projects submitted by Charter Communications. The letter informing Charter of its good fortune is dated on 3 November 2020, but wasn’t released by the California Public Utilities Commission until yesterday.
Combined with the tentative approval of six projects announced on Friday, that means that $32 million has been earmarked for 15 CASF grant applications submitted this year, leaving 39 projects totalling $364 million to chase the $163 million that I roughly estimate is remaining in the fund.… More