Thursday, October 23, 2008

California PUC considering expanding eligibility for broadband build out subsidies

The California Public Utilities Commission is soliciting comment on potentially expanding eligibility for 40 percent grant funding from its California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to build out broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas of the Golden State. The commission has set aside $100 million for qualifying projects to be funded over a two-year period, paid for by a 0.25 percent surcharge on end-users’ intrastate telephone bills.

Proposals to serve unserved areas were due July 24 and underserved areas by Aug. 25. Only entities with a certificate of public convenience and necessity to offer telecommunications services or those registered with the CPUC provider of wireless telecommunications services were eligible to submit project proposals by those dates. The CPUC is now considering accepting proposals from municipalities, community-based cooperatives, Native American tribes as well as funding economic development corporations to issue loans to finance projects.

"We further anticipate significant unserved and underserved areas will remain after grant of the current pending applications," CPUC's Oct. 15 ruling states. "During our first round of applications we received significant interest from serious potential applicants who were uncertificated internet service providers in areas geographically close to unserved or underserved areas."

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