California PUC is about to make ruling.

Posted: November 26, 2015

Indicators look favorable.

    The Newberry Springs Community Alliance, producer of the Blotter, has had on-going communication with Rachelle Chong, of the Law Offices of Rachelle Chong located in San Francisco.  Chong is Outside Counsel for the California Emerging Technology Fund ("CETF"); the good guys supportive of broadband for Newberry Springs.

    In an e-mail to us, Rachelle Chong responded to an earlier communication from our coeditor, Ted Stimpfel.  Because her e-mail sums up the current status on broadband, we are sharing portions it.

Rachelle Chong wrote:
It is good to hear from you.  I appreciate hearing your concerns and want to give you some information for your community.

1. Frontier Verizon deal has a positive proposed order for the merger and I expect it to be approved by the CPUC on 12/3/2015.

A number of consumer parties, including my client CETF, obtained positive settlement agreements and Memorandum of Understandings with Frontier, which include increased upgrades to rural communities and $3-million in broadband adoption outreach over 3 years.  I am attaching a copy of the public MOU (11.4MB) between CETF and Frontier and the Office of Ratepayer Advocate/TURN/Center for Accessible Technology (Joint Parties Settlement) (381KB) for your review.  In them you will see what was agreed to.  The judge's proposed order incorporates the terms of these settlement and MOU agreements into the CPUC approval and he promises to enforce them.

2. Regarding D395: (Digital 395 - Chong is referencing Praxis Associates that placed fiberoptic between Barstow and Reno along Route 395 and is now proposing laying fiberoptic between Barstow and Las Vegas.)  You should gratefully and enthusiastically accept its offer to get an Internet link to your community.  That is the first huge step for your community.  Then you can work to get a local ISP to provide fast service once that middle mile link is in place.

Regarding D395, their business is providing the middle mile link, not providing retail broadband service to end users.  So the lower service fee for low income: the FCC has an active proceeding that will establish a broadband Lifeline program similar to the telephone Lifeline program in the near future.  In that program, retail broadband providers who are wiling to be part of the program will offer a discounted basic broadband service to low income households, and receive from the FCC a subsidy to do so.  While the timing is uncertain as yet, we expect a decision next year, and then an implementation period.  So this is a very promising development for communities like yours.  So hold tight on that.  It's coming soon in my view.


    For about a year the Community Alliance has been voicing support for the Barstow-Las Vegas fiberoptic proposal.  Most of Chong's comments are not new information for those who have been following this matter; yet, her attached documents (linked above) reveal for the first time, the CPUC's proposed decision.

    While Newberry Springs is not mentioned anywhere in the proposed decision, Newberry's letter writing campaign appears to have played an influential part in the Memorandum of Understanding and the Joint Parties Settlement Agreement that favor the ruralization of broadband.  These documents are imbedded as a major part of the CPUC decision; and adherence to them by Frontier Communications will be supervised by a judge.

    Under the terms of the agreements, there are avenues now open for Newberry Springs to acquire broadband; and they all foster the adoption of a federal program for a reduced fee for low income qualifiers.

    The question of when, and which one of the doors may open to Newberry Springs, becomes a matter of Frontier's priorities, scheduling, and assistive funding which is dependent upon Washington.  Newberry could be acquiring broadband within the next 3 to 5 years.  Changes in the political atmosphere in Washington over broadband support could delay this timing.

    Meanwhile, the Community Alliance has been following the planned birth of a Barstow-Las Vegas fiberoptic route.  While that project is still in the conceptive womb stage, it could be birthing next year.  At best, the main trunk line will run through the center of Newberry Springs or along the I-15 with a branch line into Newberry.  From the end of that branch, as Chong above states, a retail Internet Service Provider (ISP) would then provide the final service hookups.

    High speed Internet connectively is exceptionally important for Newberry's future and those who took the time to write the CPUC on the matter have played a very important role.

    The Newberry Springs Chamber of Commerce, Newberry Springs-Harvard Property Owners Association, Newberry Springs Service Association (Family Center), and the Newberry Community Services District were all important participants supporting the letter campaign.

Related news blogs:
Verizon is dumping landline customers. -  7/25/15
Affordable Internet for Newberry Springs. -  8/2/15
Newberry Springs is running out of time. -  10/22/15
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