2015 a broadband breakout year for California's central coast

Santa Cruz Tech Beat, for which I sometimes write, published its picks for top stories of 2014. It’s a good list and takes a holistic view of the local tech scene and economy. Looking ahead, I think the ground work that was done this year will drive next year’s success. So, my predictions for the top local broadband stories of 2015 are…

3 – Sunesys fiber line breaks ground
The $10.6 million grant from the California Public Utilities Commission was justified by the benefit delivered to the Salinas Valley — which is substantial, real and sufficient grounds for spending the money.… More

Digital 395 fiber draws a last mile crowd in eastern California

Faster residential and business broadband service – including gigabit-class fiber-to-the-home service in some communities – is following in the wake of the Digital 395 project, an open access middle mile fiber link from Reno down through eastern California to Barstow. The California Public Utilities Commission just approved a $4.7 million grant proposed by Race Telecommunications to build FTTH systems in four small Mono County communities using the Digital 395 backbone.
The areas around Aspen Springs, Chalfant, Crowley Lake and Sunny Slopes should see upgraded service in the next couple of years.… More

CPUC endorses long California broadband infrastructure priority list

1 July 2014 by Steve Blum
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Click for the full list.

Included in last week’s reboot of the California Advanced Services Fund’s broadband infrastructure subsidy program was a long priority list of places where broadband infrastructure is considered sub-standard by local communities. It’s the result of several months of work by regional broadband consortia throughout the state, most of whom presented their findings at a statewide broadband summit in Sacramento in March.
By approving the list – along with a new schedule and process for applying for CASF grants and loans – the California Public Utilities Commission put both incumbent cable and telephone companies and would-be competitors on notice that these dark spots on the California broadband map are ready to be filled.… More

CPUC not bugged by incumbent advantages, approve new broadband subsidy rules

26 June 2014 by Steve Blum
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Whether you like the rules or not – and for what it’s worth I don’t – it’s game on for the next round of broadband infrastructure construction subsidies from the California Advanced Services Fund. In a unanimous vote this morning, the California Public Utilities Commission approved new rules and a timeline for applying for CASF grants and loans.

Existing Internet service providers that offer substandard service (6 Mbps down/1.5 Mbps up, per the CPUC) are first in line: they can block potential competitors from getting CASF funding in their service areas.… More

Point and counterpoint for new broadband subsidy rules in California

17 June 2014 by Steve Blum
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Eight rebuttals were filed yesterday, in response to the 14 opening comments on a draft of new rules for infrastructure construction subsidies from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF).

Three sets of reply comments came from service providers, or those who represent them. Frontier, a coalition of small rural telephone companies and the lobbying front for the California cable industry – CCTA – followed up their original comments by largely agreeing with each other, and objecting to any notion that greater accountability should be expected of them.… More

CPUC tells regional consortia to build broadband infrastructure

13 June 2014 by Steve Blum
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A foot of fiber is worth a mile of talk.

The California Public Utilities Commission has, again, made it clear that the top spending priority of the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) is better broadband infrastructure. In a unanimous decision yesterday, the CPUC blessed two new CASF-funded regional broadband consortia, in the process reaffirming that the program is about construction, not talk.

One, the North Bay North Coast Broadband Consortium (NBNCBC) will get a total of $250,000, split over 2 years, to work toward improving broadband infrastructure in Sonoma, Mendocino, Marin and Napa Counties.… More

Filling more holes in California's broadband consortia map

Click for a bigger version.

Two more regional broadband consortia are in the pipeline for coastal California. The California Public Utilities Commission has a draft resolution in front of it that proposes putting $550,000 into broadband planning in two new regions: the Pacific Coast consortium for San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties and the North Bay/North Coast consortium for Marin, Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. Both would be funded for two years, getting a total of $300,000 and $250,000 respectively.… More

The more broadband, the more interest in more broadband

Click to download the presentation.

One of the thousand or so communities, companies, organisations and private individuals that’s expressed interest in participating in the FCC’s rural broadband experiment program is the City of Marina, on Monterey Bay, which is where I live and work, at least when I’m not traveling somewhere.

It came out of a conversation I had with the city’s economic development coordinator, Marilyn Lidyoff, and a member of the economic development commission, Steve Emerson, at a local regional economic development conference back in March.… More

Rural telcos can bust a move on big incumbents, says CPUC commissioner

Typically, telephone companies do not intrude on each other’s territory, but that’s a matter of custom, not a fundamental law of the universe. Commissioner Catherine Sandoval says that breaking down that barrier could be a way to improve broadband coverage in rural areas, if small rural telephone companies are willing to take on big incumbents, with the encouragement of the California Public Utilities Commission.

She spoke at the Central Sierra Connect Broadband Consortium conference in Tuolumne City last week about going to public meetings in rural areas and hearing from speaker after disgruntled speaker…

It turns out that what they were disgruntled about is they said that ‘my neighbor who’s just down the road has terrific Internet access and I don’t have Internet access and I want better Internet access’.


Slashing the cost of getting to yes clears the way for broadband upgrades

29 April 2014 by Steve Blum
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If you want fast and cheap Internet service, then your permit process has to be fast and cheap, too. That was the essence of the message that Santa Cruz County supervisor Zach Friend delivered to the Central Sierra Connect Broadband Consortium conference in Tuolumne City last week.

Traditionally, getting county approval to bury fiber or install an equipment box was a complicated process that subjected broadband projects to the same level of scrutiny and one-off analysis that might be applied to a new shopping center.… More