A Neighborhood Broadband Initiative

by Russ Steele

Vast Networks, a middle-mile and last mile fiber infrastructure provider based in Fresno, CA, provides commercial fiber network services through the heart of the western Sierra Nevada foothills from Jamestown in Tuolumne County to Grass Valley and Nevada City in Nevada County. The Vast fiber network was funded through federal ARRA and state CASF grants in 2010. It is now complete and is supply high-speed Internet services on its route. However, this post is about a connection in Nevada County.

Nevada County High Speed Internet

It is hard to see on the map, but the fiber network goes down Newtown Road. I just learned that a neighborhood of seven families recently bought a connection to this commercial network. They formed a non-profit corporation and contracted with Vast for a point of presence on the Vast Network. Now all seven home have high-speed internet for personal and business use. When the fiber came down their road, they took the initiative to get connected. They did not wait for the Government to force the phone or cable company to bring them high-speed internet. We need more if this kind of initiative!

Organized in 1995 CVIN LLC (dba Vast Networks) is comprised of affiliates of independent telephone companies located in Central and Northern California. They offer a full line of network services to telecommunications companies in the area. More detail on the Vast website HERE.

Note, Vast does not provide services to individual homeowners, they service business. Thus, the needed to form a non-profit corporation. More details when they come available. Watch for updates.

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High-Speed Internet Project for Nevada County Gets Green Light (Docs)

The California Public Utilities Commission has signaled approval of the sale of Bright Fiber Inc. to Race Communications with some changes, a move that after months of inaction advances a high-speed internet project in Nevada County.

The CPUC on Monday released a resolution detailing the changes, which include having 75 percent of the project on existing utility poles instead of “primarily underground.” Additionally, the utilities commission grant — which comprises 60 percent of the total project cost — will be reduced by almost $70,000, for a total of $16,086,789.

The utility commission must approve the sale — a vote scheduled for Jan. 10.

Read the Rest of the Story in The Union

 

CA Economic Summit: Resilient rural communities built on upgraded infrastructure, faster broadband for all

The ability to purchase a home is vital to the foundation of a thriving community. As Chair of the Golden State Finance Authority (GSFA), I have seen firsthand the benefits that homeownership affords California’s local communities. GSFA has supported affordable homeownership in California for over two decades, providing homeownership programs featuring competitive interest rates and down payment assistance.

Over the past 25 years, GSFA has helped more than 74,800 individuals and families purchase homes and provided over $537 million in down payment assistance, as well as provided financing for over 30,000 residential or commercial energy efficiency projects.

While GSFA is doing its part to expand access to affordable homeownership in the state, homeownership alone does not constitute a thriving community. Every community needs jobs for its residents and a solid infrastructure platform on which to build its local economy. In 2018, it is vital that such an infrastructure platform include not only high-functioning traditional infrastructure such as water, sewer, and transportation systems, but also a robust broadband network that is accessible to all.

Working through its affiliate organization, the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC), GSFA has identified a number of industry-specific areas of focus for their economic development strategy in California’s rural counties, including broadband and infrastructure. RCRC’s economic development team is working with a network of economic development professionals in RCRC’s 36 member counties to support and catalyze programs and projects that result in job and investment generation.

Rural Broadband Deployment

High-speed broadband deployment in rural California is one of the most critical missing infrastructure components. Its absence often precludes unserved and underserved communities from participating in the 21st century economy. High-speed broadband provides essential benefits by allowing increased economic and trade opportunities for small to medium-sized businesses, access to medical care (telehealth/telemedicine) and educational opportunities, and enhanced public safety – improving overall quality of life. Speed of commerce service is a critical step in the development of strong rural communities.

Infrastructure

Many communities in rural California are in desperate need of infrastructure upgrades to better serve their residents and businesses, but don’t have the resources, financial or otherwise, to research, apply, and implement these upgrades. These projects include improvements to water, transportation, and community facilities infrastructure. Innovative funding options and other programs that allow for project pooling and access to multiple funding sources that may reduce existing barriers to entry for rural communities must be identified.

The source is HERE. [Emphasis added]

Sprint Taking FCC To Court Over 5G Order Cities Seeking Local Control

— A swathe of Western cities including Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Las Vegas and San Jose are suing to challenge the FCC over its September 5G wireless deployment order that, they argue, unfairly trampled on city governments’ rights, John reported Thursday . The wireless industry largely celebrated this FCC action and said its federal pre-emption is vital to ensure carriers can roll out 5G wireless infrastructure in a timely and affordable manner.

— Not all carriers are satisfied. Sprint, the fourth-largest carrier in the nation with a $26 billion T-Mobile merger pending before the commission, is taking the FCC to court to challenge the order . A Sprint spokeswoman says that while the carrier backs much of the order, “in one area, we believe the final order did not go far enough.” Its challenge argues that the FCC “declines to adopt a ‘deemed granted’ remedy when siting authorities fail to act on siting applications within the shot clock timeframes established by the Commission.” Local government advocates were pleased that the FCC order left out this so-called “deemed granted” provision, in which the federal government could have mandated city governments automatically approve a carrier’s infrastructure siting application if they had not acted on it by a certain time. In other words, Sprint wants the FCC to be more aggressive in granting wireless industry wishes.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

RCRC Broadband Update

[Today] the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on a rule change that will restrict rural carrier’s access to spectrum needed to close the digital divide. Rural counties across the country often rely on small local providers to offer broadband services where the large nationwide carriers refuse to provide coverage.

Small carriers deliver high-speed internet to millions of rural Americans at an affordable rate in areas where nationwide carriers refuse to build networks. Despite the important role these carriers play for rural broadband customers, the FCC will vote to restrict small carriers’ access to low-cost spectrum next week.

The Report and Order drafted by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will change the rules for the “Citizen’s Broadband Radio Service” (CBRS) program which provides affordable spectrum licenses for census tract areas. These licenses are more beneficial to large rural counties because they enable local carriers to provide broadband to smaller population centers. CTIA, a telecommunications trade association representing nationwide carriers and other stakeholders, petitioned the FCC to eliminate the census tract licenses because they interfere with larger networks. CTIA and T-Mobile proposed a “compromise” to the FCC to expand the license area from census tracts to counties. Critics argue nationwide carriers would abuse a county license by over-building in urban centers to meet their build-out requirements without adding service for under-served rural areas.

Rural advocates will intensify their political pressure in the days leading up to the FCC’s vote to encourage Members of Congress to speak out on their behalf.

The source is HERE.

ATTENTION: AB 1999 Easing the Way for Rural Communities

This is really important news! Governor Brown signed AB 1999 on 30 September 2018. Communities can now treat broadband as a critical infrastructure, just like water, wastewater management, trash collections, fire protection, and public transportation.

Community Networks has the details:

AB 1999 focuses on the responsibilities and authority of community service districts (CSDs), created to provide necessary services. CSDs are independent local governments usually formed by residents in unincorporated areas for the purpose of providing the kinds of services city-dwellers often take for granted: water and wastewater management, trash collection, fire protection, etc. In keeping with the ability to raise funds for these services, CSDs have the authority to create enhanced infrastructure financing districts (EIFDs). CSDs are allowed to use EIFDs to fund development of Internet access infrastructure in the same way they would sewer infrastructure, or convert overhead utilities to underground, or other projects that deal with infrastructure and are in the public interest.

Prior to the adoption of AB 1999, however, a CSD would first have to engage in a process to determine that no person or entity was willing to provide Internet access before the CSD could offer it to premises. Additionally, if a private sector entity came along after the infrastructure was deployed and expressed a willingness to do so, the CSD had no choice by law but to sell or lease the infrastructure they had developed rather than operate it themselves.

With the passage of AB 1999, CSDs no longer need to adhere to those strict requirements.

When the California State Legislature chose to pass the bill, lawmakers sent a message to big cable and telephone companies that they are no longer willing to bend over backwards to protect incumbent monopolies that ignore their rural constituents. Other states with restrictions championed by national ISPs and their lobbyists need to take note of California’s decision. Voters already believe that the federal government doesn’t do enough to bring high-quality Internet access to rural areas. State laws that further restrict options add to their frustration.

This a major step toward empowering local communities! Now the problem is getting local communities to exercise that power.  Local communities can stop waiting for the 5G that will never come and start taking action to meet the broadband needs of their citizens.

FCC Small Cell Ruling Local Impact?

Governor Brown vetoed SB 649 which would have cleared the path for 5G small cell installation. Counties, Cities, and Town administrators worried if SB 649 became law, it would cap how much they could charge the telcos for use of public infrastructure. Now it has become a Federal administrative dictate.

Of course, what is worth noting is the majority of local authorities are working effectively with the telcos and the federal government to remove administrative hurdles and smooth the road to deployment. These new rules, which limit the power and influence of the local governments, are only directed at the troublemakers who demonstrate short-sighted ambitions in laying out a troublesome path for the telcos.

This is from telecom.com news article HERE.

It raises a question. What is the Gold County Broadband Consortia doing to smooth 5G installation in its area of responsibility, including Sierra, Nevada, Placer and El Dorado County? Question asked, waiting for an answer.

Even larger question is what are all the 14 California Utilities Commission Broadband Consortia doing to smooth 5G implementation? It is going to an economic challenge for the telcos to bring 5G to rural communities. Short-sighted administrative or greedy obstacles in the path will reduce the probability that those communities will ever see 5G.

Links to rural broadband consortia are in the right-hand column, ask the 5G question of the administrator and local policymakers.  Are they helping or hindering 5G implementation?  You might be surprised by the answer.