2015-2015-02-19

Mariposa County Supervisors Support Countywide Broadband Expansion

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Details Last Updated: Thursday, 19 February 2015 02:35

At the Tuesday, February 17, 2015 Mariposa County Board of Supervisors Meeting Darrell Slocum from Central Sierra Connect1 asked the Board to sign a Resolution supporting broadband projects in Mariposa County by Cal.net2. There is no County money involved with the Resolution for the projects. The supervisors by signing the Resolution would be saying they support broadband (DSL, etc,) infrastructure, additional investment in the county and to provide more broadband capability to the county businesses and residents.

Central Sierra Connect would also like supporting letters from the community.

Mr. Slocum said some areas of the county are served very well by Sierra Tel3, buy they are a private company and in order for them to expand they have to use their own money which is difficult to do from a Return on Investment (ROI) viewpoint.

He also said Mariposa County ranks low in the state for broadband availability and Central Sierra Connect thinks it is beneficial to bring other Internet Service Providers (ISP) to the county.

Mr. Slocum said Central Sierra Connect is a grant funded program with money coming from the California Advanced Services Fund4 and their program is to bridge the digital divide by bringing technology to the residents.

Now in their third year they provide service through outreach and education programs to five counties: Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa, Tuolumne and western Alpine.

Central Sierra Connect assists internet services providers who are interested in grant funding from the California Advanced Services Fund.

The California Advanced Services Fund supports infrastructure projects in California through matching funds to encourage investment in broadband capabilities in areas that are unserved or underserved by broadband providers.

The California Advanced Services Fund is administered by the California Public Utility’s Commission (CPUC) which defines broadband speeds of 6 Mbps download and 1.5 Mbps upload.

Central Sierra Connect is asking the supervisors to support the Internet Service Provider, Cal.net5.

Ken Garnett, Chief Technology Officer for Cal.net was there to answer any questions from the Supervisors or the public.

During the last grant funding cycle (2013) no ISP companies applied for grant funding with Central Sierra Connect. Mr. Slocum said it is a slow, onerous, complicated and lengthy process.

Cal.net. has spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of staff time with no guarantee of success on their application. Central Sierra Connect helps them with support in the community.

Mr.

Slocum said satellite internet providers do not provide an adequate internet signal.

Cal.net. will use TV White Space6 technology which is beneficial in heavily forested areas.

Ken Garnett from Cal.net said the technology they use is called fixed (attached to a structure) wireless as opposed to copper or fiber. The broadband gets to the consumer through a wireless signal but not the same type of wireless like a cell phone uses.

The receiving device is pointed at a tower site and the speed depends on where you are (line of site).

TV Whitespace was certified by the FCC in 2013.

Also Cal.net will use another technology called fixed LTE. Depending on the technology they use, speeds will range from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps depending upon location.

A Sierra Tel representative said the communities of Lake Don Pedro, Coulterville, Greeley Hill, El Portal, Foresta, Yosemite Valley are unserved or underserved. These locations are AT&T’s territory and Sierra Tel is restricted to serving the areas.

In March of 2014 Sierra Tel submitted a proposal to the FCC to serve these areas with fiber optic cable, but Mariposa County was not chosen when the proposals from ISP’s were awarded nationwide.

Sierra Tel is aggressively building out their fiber optic network as speeds are not limited as this point in time.

Sierra Tel has over 400 miles of fiber optic facilities in it’s serving area and continues to grow every day.

A 2014 Broadband7 (pdf) report by the CPUC on fixed broadband availability, out of the 58 California counties Mariposa comes in at 42.

Also in the report Counties that have 25,000 or less households, Mariposa is ranked number 3 out of 19. In Counties that have Households less than 10,000 which fits more with Mariposa, Mariposa is rated 2 out of 11. The Sierra Tel rep said these rankings indicate the work Sierra Tel is doing to provide broadband to the customers.

The Supervisors unanimously voted to approve the Resolution.


The Board item:

Receive Presentation, and Adopt Resolution in Support of Cal.Net Broadband Projects in Mariposa

RECOMMENDATION AND JUSTIFICATION:
Receive a Presentation from Central Sierra Connect Broadband Consortium (Darrell Slocum), and Cal.Net Representatives; and Adopt a Resolution Showing Support for Cal.Net Broadband Projects in Mariposa County. The Central Sierra Connect Broadband Consortium (CSC) is a collective of local community leaders from five Mother Lode counties which includes members from the Boards of Supervisors, business owners, Internet service providers (ISPs,) economic development directors, and other concerned community members whose mission is to bridge the digital divide by bringing broadband to the people and the people to broadband. Since 2012, the CSC has been working to garner ISP interest in applying for California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) grant funding for providing broadband in Mariposa County.

Cal.net has shown interest in Mariposa County, and has worked for months to identify where unserved and underserved broadband areas are located within the County; create a business and financial plan to support planned infrastructure build out; and has applied for CASF matching grant funds. A Resolution showing support of Cal.net Broadband Projects in Mariposa County is being requested to assist Cal.net in their CASF grant application process. No General Fund money is required nor requested for these projects.

BACKGROUND AND HISTORY OF BOARD ACTIONS:
The Board has adopted Resolutions supporting projects and issues that will benefit the citizens of Mariposa County. ALTERNATIVES AND CONSEQUENCES OF NEGATIVE ACTION:
Do not approve the Resolution. Cal.net may lose the competitive edge needed to win an award for CASF funding.



Central Sierra Connect Memo for Supervisors Packet

mariposa-county-broadband



Central Sierra Connect High Priority Areas Map

mariposa-county-broadband-2


The Resolution:

mariposa-county-broadband-3
mariposa-county-broadband-4

References

  1. ^ Central Sierra Connect (www.centralsierraconnect.org)
  2. ^ Cal.net (www.cal.net)
  3. ^ Sierra Tel (www.sti.net)
  4. ^ California Advanced Services Fund (www.cpuc.ca.gov)
  5. ^ Cal.net (www.cal.net)
  6. ^ TV White Space (en.wikipedia.org)
  7. ^ 2014 Broadband (www.cpuc.ca.gov)