Tuesday, August 05, 2008

ISPs target remote areas of Northern California for state subsidized broadband infrastructure

A review of broadband infrastructure projects filed by the July 24 soft application deadline for 40 percent buildout subsidies from the California Advanced Services Fund to service unserved and underserved areas of the state shows nearly all of the proposed projects are located in Northern California. Most are in ZIP Codes and census tracts in North Coast counties and heavily concentrated in remote Sierra Nevada counties.

The providers -- whose identities remain under wraps until the close of the application process being overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission -- have apparently chosen to deploy outside of metro areas where they believe they could face near term competition from the telco/cable duopoly. That unfortunately means for those mired in broadband black holes where telcos and/or cable companies have limited, incomplete broadband infrastructure in parts of metro area counties such as the Sierra Nevada foothill counties of El Dorado and Placer and portions of Silicon Valley, relief doesn't appear likely anytime soon from one of these subsidized ISPs. In El Dorado County alone, for example, the California Broadband Task Force identified more than five dozen communities that aren't provided any wireline broadband services -- and that's not counting the numerous broadband black holes adjacent to U.S Highway 50.

Providers seeking the CASF funding were allowed to propose either wireline or wireless broadband projects providing minimum throughput of 3 Mbs down and 1 Mbs up.

Update 9/3/08: The CPUC has released ZIP Codes, Maps and Census Block Groups for proposed projects filed by the Aug. 25 soft deadline that would build out broadband infrastructure to underserved areas, which the CPUC defines as those where broadband is available but no facilities-based provider offers service at asymmetrical speeds of at least 3 Mbs for downloads and 1 Mbs on the upload side.

As with the proposals for unserved areas, defined as defined those not served by any form of facilities-based broadband, or where
Internet connectivity is available only through dial-up service or satellite, the vast majority of the proposed projects for underserved areas are situated in Northern California. This latest batch of proposals is heavily concentrated in Sierra Nevada and Sierra Nevada foothill counties including Toulumne, Mariposa, Amador and Calavaras counties.

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