Comcast protests we’re not cherrypicking, it’s our cherry that’s been picked

Comcast tried to paint itself as a champion consumer choice, as its lawyers clashed with those representing Ponderosa Telephone at the California Public Utilities Commission last week. The question is whether Comcast should be allowed to compete as a telephone company against Ponderosa, which is a small, heavily subsidised rural telco. But the core issue is whether allowing wireline telephone competitors to target high revenue potential customers in rural telco service areas will lead to even greater taxpayer subsidies for less affluent and less densely populated communities that companies like Ponderosa are required to serve.… More

Comcast reveals plan to pick a juicy cherry in Madera County

22 February 2019 by Steve Blum
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Tesoro viejo

Comcast wants permission to offer phone service to a new Madera County development in Ponderosa Telephone’s territory. In a required public disclosure of a private meeting between a California Public Utilities Commission staffer and a lobbyist and a lawyer for Comcast, the company revealed that it is targeting Tesoro Viejo, a master planned community of 5,200 upscale homes on two and a half square miles of rural land in southern Madera County.

According to the filing, Comcast says that if it offers phone service in the development, it would create “additional consumer choice” but “would have limited effect on Ponderosa and its draw on [a rural telco subsidy] fund”.… More

Comcast seeks CPUC blessing to compete with rural telco, but only for not so rural customers

19 February 2019 by Steve Blum
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Sierra 625

Comcast says it’s striking a blow for telecoms competition, Ponderosa Telephone says no, it’s cherrypicking business customers at the expense of rural residents. At issue is Comcast’s request to expand the area in which it’s authorised to offer telephone service to include the service territory of Ponderosa Telephone Company, a small, incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) that serves parts of Fresno, Madera and San Bernardino counties. Presumably, Comcast is eyeing Fresno and/or Madera counties, where both it and Ponderosa operate.… More

CPUC considers eventual convergence of rural broadband and phone

23 December 2014 by Steve Blum
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Telecommunications service and infrastructure is subsidised in a couple of different ways in rural California. The California Advanced Services Fund pays the lion’s share of the cost of building broadband infrastructure in under and unserved areas, and the California High Cost Fund supports telephone service as well as infrastructure. The latter is divided between rural areas served by bigger incumbents, like AT&T, Verizon and Frontier, and those served by small rural companies, like Pinnacles Telephone or Ponderosa.… 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’.