Wednesday, August 29, 2007

California PUC proposes broadband build out rules, wireless broadband reporting requirement

The California Public Utilities Commission has issued draft rules implementing the state's Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act's build out requirements for telcos and cable companies wishing to obtain a state franchise to offer broadband-based video services.

The draft rules require franchisees to include "clearly stated build-out milestones " that "demonstrate a serious and realistic planning effort." In addition, franchisees must "clearly state the constraints affecting the build-out" and "clearly delineate and explain" areas within the franchisee's service area that pose "substantially higher" costs.

The CPUC declined requests by consumer groups to require franchisees to provide data on the broadband transmission technologies they use and throughput speeds. However, under the proposed rules, it would require franchisees to provide data on the extent it is utilizing wireless broadband technology.

"The State and the Commission have a strong interest in making sure that unserved or underserved areas gain access to broadband services," the proposed decision states. "We believe areas currently unserved or underserved by broadband at this point will likely
be rural areas, or other areas that are high cost due to distance, terrain, demographics and density issues. It is thus important that the Commission gather data that will help us understand the extent to which wireless broadband is reaching these difficult-to-serve areas, and the degree to which consumers view these services as a means to satisfy their on-line needs. Accordingly, we will require subscriber data relating to wireless broadband to indicate whether the subscription is for a data-enabled wireless phone, PDA or other wireless hand-held device, or whether the subscription is for the use of a wireless data card. Wireless data cards are capable of providing either mobile or fixed broadband access to the internet from a customer’s personal computer, and may effectively substitute for wireline broadband access. Data about the adoption by customers of wireless broadband access for use with their personal computers will help guide our policies aimed at increasing investment in broadband infrastructure and closing the digital divide in our State."

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