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
In August, governor Gavin Newsom said all Californians should have, at the minimum, 100 Mbps broadband service. He didn’t say how that would happen, though. The job was delegated to the California Broadband Council, a talking shop dominated by state government information technology managers. The final draft (not the final-final version) was published last week. It’s long on high sounding words about the universal need for broadband service and the wonderfulness of the benefits it brings, but endorses a much slower standard than the governor called for and has little to say about how to achieve even that much.… More
People are economically rational about municipally owned and operated broadband systems. Emotions – hatred of incumbents or warm, fuzzy collectivist feelings – do not motivate consumers to switch ISPs or vote for tax-backed bonds to pay for a publicly provided gigabit. That’s my conclusion yet again, after reading yet another professionally executed muni broadband feasibility study, this one by Columbia Telecommunications Corporation for Multnomah County in Oregon (h/t to Fred Pilot at the U.S. Telecom Infrastructure Crisis blog).… 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
Shot clocks only matter if a referee blows the whistle. California and federal laws, and Federal Communications Commission regulations set deadlines of anywhere from 60 days to 150 days for local agencies to approve or deny permits for construction or modification of wireless facilities, including cellular sites. In theory, when the deadline passes, the permit is deemed granted (or deemed approved, per California’s law). In practice, I’ve never seen a mobile company try to exercise deemed granted privileges in California.… More
One question I often get is can local or state governments require mobile carriers to share cell sites, particularly small ones that can be attached to something like a street light pole?
There are technical issues with carriers sharing big, macro site towers, but those are generally solvable if the tower is big enough, and cities can sometimes pressure or cajole carriers to work together. A major consideration is whether the location of a given tower meets the engineering requirements of a mobile carrier.… 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
On Wednesday, the lame duck Federal Communications Commission reassigned 45 MHz of automotive spectrum in the crowded 5.8/5.9 GHz band for WiFi and other unlicensed uses, including transportation applications. It’s a long overdue decision – I’ve been following the debate since the Obama administration – and a welcome one for two reasons: unlicensed spectrum is the lifeblood of consumer connectivity, and it marks a victory for 21st century technology over 19th century bureaucracy and 20th century political payoffs.… 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