Of the 52 applications for broadband infrastructure grants from the California Advanced Services Fund, 23 are for fiber to the premise (FTTP) builds of one kind or another, 16 are hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) projects, all submitted by Charter Communications, and 13 would be for fixed wireless facilities.
The least expensive proposals are, naturally enough, fixed wireless projects, most of which are in the $1,500 per home range. It’s probably no coincidence that the California Public Utility Commission’s benchmark price for wireless subsidies is also $1,500 per home.
Three of the proposed FTTP projects include fixed wireless add ons, to extend coverage to outlying homes. The numbers for each aren’t always broken out in the published project summaries, so my dollars per home unit number lumps them all together. You’d think that the combo FTTP/wireless projects would have lower costs per home than pure FTTP builds – wireless is a lot cheaper to deploy than fiber. But that isn’t the case – the average cost for pure FTTP projects is $28,000 per home, while the combo builds come in at an average of $41,000 per home.
The reason for that isn’t completely clear, but it’s worth noting that all three reach into areas that cover a lot of sparsely populated ground. There’s also wide variance. The Hoopa Valley project in Humboldt County proposed by Hunter Communications is the least expensive at $6,900 per home. The published summary implies that the majority of last mile connections will be wireless. At the other end of the spectrum, the Mendocino County proposal, also by Hunter Communications, comes in at $49,000 per home. According to the summary, about ten percent of the homes reached by the project will get service via a wireless connection.
The cost of the 20 pure FTTP projects varies widely, from a low of $8,800 per home for Race Communications’ Gigafy Arbuckle proposal in Colusa County, to $95,000 per home for Frontier Communications’ build in Cuyama, in eastern Santa Barbara County. The cost of that project includes 82 miles of much needed middle mile fiber that connects Santa Maria on the coast to Maricopa in Kern County.
The most expensive project on a per home basis, though, is an old school copper and fiber HFC cable build, proposed by Charter Communications in the in a Moorpark neighborhood in Ventura County. That would cost $117,000 per home. On the other hand, Charter is also applying for a $1,500 per home grant in Los Angeles County, which is the least expensive wireline project in the hopper, and only three bucks a home more than the cheapest wireless proposal.
CASF Project Proposals – 4 May 2020 Grant Application Window
|Country Meadows||Charter||$2,165,515||314||$6,897||San Bernardino||HFC|
|El Dorado Estates||Charter||$1,477,032||276||$5,352||Ventura||HFC|
|Foothill Terrace||Charter||$489,513||327||$1,497||Los Angeles||HFC|
|Monterey Manor||Charter||$796,198||92||$8,654||San Bernardino||HFC|
|Mountain Shadows||Charter||$2,006,811||132||$15,203||San Bernardino||HFC|
|River Oaks||Charter||$829,462||45||$18,432||San Benito||HFC|
|Villa Montclair||Charter||$548,279||64||$8,567||San Bernardino||HFC|
|Butte Yuba||Digital Path||$872,761||582||$1,500||Butte, Yuba||Wireless|
|Fresno County||Digital Path||$448,349||299||$1,499||Fresno||Wireless|
|Glenn County||Digital Path||$361,500||241||$1,500||Glenn||Wireless|
|Lake County||Digital Path||$123,000||82||$1,500||Lake||Wireless|
|Mendocino County||Digital Path||$138,000||92||$1,500||Mendocino||Wireless|
|Plumas Lassen||Digital Path||$865,000||577||$1,499||Plumas, Lassen||Wireless|
|Sacramento County||Digital Path||$230,000||154||$1,494||Sacramento||Wireless|
|Sierra County||Digital Path||$241,000||161||$1,497||Sierra||Wireless|
|Siskiyou County||Digital Path||$138,000||92||$1,500||Siskiyou||Wireless|
|Sutter Placer||Digital Path||$418,433||277||$1,511||Sutter||Wireless|
|Tehama County||Digital Path||$935,976||624||$1,500||Tehama||Wireless|
|Central Coast||Etheric||$3,180,330||1,976||$1,609||Monterey, San Benito||Wireless|
|Crescent City||Frontier||$1,586,885||134||$11,842||Del Norte||FTTP|
|Cuyama||Frontier||$12,462,755||131||$95,136||Kern, Santa Barbara||FTTP|
|Knights Landing||Frontier||$4,590,845||104||$44,143||Colusa, Sutter, Yolo||FTTP|
|Mad River||Frontier||$8,169,979||203||$40,246||Humboldt, Trinity||FTTP|
|Northeast Phase 2||Frontier||$10,358,969||502||$20,635||Plumas, Tehama||FTTP|
|Smith River||Frontier||$1,428,479||55||$25,972||Del Norte||FTTP|
|Hoopa Valley||Hunter||$8,233,340||1,198||$6,873||Humboldt||FTTP, wireless|
|Mendocino County||Hunter||$290,327,940||5,870||$49,460||Mendocino||FTTP, wireless|
|Long Valley||Plumas Sierra||$4,118,255||54||$76,264||Plumas||FTTP|
|Mohawk Valley||Plumas Sierra||$2,271,039||54||$42,056||Plumas||FTTP|
|Scott Road||Plumas Sierra||$4,307,475||88||$48,949||Lassen, Sierra||FTTP|
|Sierra Valley||Plumas Sierra||$5,123,342||283||$18,104||Plumas, Sierra||FTTP, wireless|
|Southern Lassen||Plumas Sierra||$13,630,662||868||$15,704||Lassen||FTTP|
|Gigafy Backus 2||Race||$4,702,649||266||$17,679||Kern||FTTP|
|Gigafy Nevada City||Race||$6,154,776||499||$12,334||Nevada||FTTP|
|Sonoma/Napa||Web Perception||$1,450,697||504||$2,878||Napa. Sonoma||Wireless|
|West Sonoma County||WiConduit||$81,886,095||1,342||$61,018||Sonoma||FTTP|
The Central Coast Broadband Consortium (CCBC) supported Charter’s San Benito County proposal and assisted Etheric Networks with its application. The Connected Capital Area Broadband Consortium (CCABC) assisted DigitalPath. I assisted the CCBC and the CCABC, and also kibitzed on other projects. I’m not a disinterested commentator. Take it for what it’s worth.