Tahoe broadband development initiative recommended for CPUC funding

A new regional broadband consortia project is on the table for the Lake Tahoe basin, which straddles the California-Nevada border. The California Public Utilities Commission will be considering whether to spend $167,000 from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) on a proposal to carve out separate funding for broadband infrastructure planning and development around Tahoe.

The area is included within the Gold Country broadband consortium, funded by CASF two years ago along with 13 others. Nominally, the money will be funnelled through that consortium, but according to the draft resolution the project would be run separately by a regional non-profit organisation, the Tahoe Prosperity Center…

Although the California portion of the Tahoe Basin is included as an area under the existing Gold Country Broadband Consortium, Gold Country’s Commission approved work plan has focused on more rural communities, particularly unserved areas in western Placer and El Dorado Counties. Thus, Tahoe Prosperity Center proponents assert that the area is underrepresented by the current, Commission-approved Consortium structure.

The Tahoe project would focus on “infrastructure data collection, site survey and mapping; a broadband needs assessment; analysis of the assessment; and broadband development plan implementation, including the development of broadband internet infrastructure projects”.

With about $1 million still available, the CPUC opened up a new round of consortia CASF grant applications last year. Five were submitted by the deadline in January, and the Tahoe proposal will be the first to go in front of the commission.

Of the remainder, two were for a new consortium serving San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties and another for San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties – six counties that were left out of the initial round. One was for extended funding for the existing consortium serving Riverside and San Bernardino counties and the fourth is for a hybrid, which would include Marin and Napa counties, which are not yet part of a consortium, and pull in Sonoma and Mendocino counties from existing consortia. The draft resolution notes that two of those proposals scored well enough to be considered and two did not, although without specifying which is which.

The commission is scheduled to vote on the Tahoe project at its 15 May 2014 meeting.

UPDATE 15 May 2014: the CPUC approved the Tahoe consortium project

Tellus Venture Associates has assisted with several CASF proposals, both for infrastructure grants and consortia applications – including the Tahoe project – so I’m not a disinterested commentator. Take it for what it’s worth.