CSAC Bulletin Article

Broadband Updates from the California Public Utilities Commission

February 15, 2024

On February 8, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) published updates on several programs under the umbrella of the Broadband For All initiative, which includes a wide variety of resources, partnerships, and programs to improve digital connectivity across the state. If you haven’t subscribed yet, county IT Directors and other interested staff can stay connected to developments and announcements regarding Broadband for All programs and other technology initiatives by subscribing to the Statewide Broadband mailing list.

For your convenience, an abbreviated list of key updates from the CPUC are included below:

BEAD Initial Proposal and Location Data Access

The CPUC submitted the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Initial Proposal to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in late December. The two-volume Initial Proposal (Volume I and Volume II) outlines California’s proposed rules and guidelines for implementing the BEAD program. As previously reported by CSAC, feedback and recommendations on the Initial Proposal were due from local governments to the CPUC by December 7, 2023.

California received $1.86 billion in federal funding for the BEAD program via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The BEAD funding will be used to deploy or upgrade broadband networks to ensure that everyone has access to reliable, affordable, high-speed Internet service.

The NTIA provides access to the BEAD serviceable location data to local governments. For more information and local assistance, visit the Location Data for Bead webpage on the CPUC’s website. The program’s background can be found on the CPUC’s BEAD website and for program news, subscribe for BEAD updates.

Loan Loss Reserve Program’s First Funding Cycle in March 2024

The CPUC has adopted a new program that will help finance publicly-owned broadband infrastructure projects. The Broadband Loan Loss Reserve Fund provides a credit enhancement to assist recipients in obtaining more favorable borrowing rates and terms for infrastructure owned by a public agency, Tribal, or non-profit organization. There will be three funding cycles per year beginning in March 2024. More information is available on the program website.

Broadband Public Housing Account Proposed Changes

On January 29, 2024, the CPUC issued a Proposed Decision for the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) Broadband Public Housing Account. The program provides grants and loans to support the deployment of free broadband infrastructure and adoption programs for residents of eligible low-income communities including but not limited to, publicly supported housing developments, and other housing developments or mobile home parks with low-income residents. The proposed changes would:

  • Expand eligibility of “other housing developments” and mobile home parks with low- income residents;
  • Expand project eligibility and the scope of costs eligible for reimbursement in low-income communities that lack access to free broadband service; and
  • Require tenant protection for applicants other than publicly supported and tribal housing developments and farmworker housing.

March 7, 2024, is the earliest date when the CPUC may vote to adopt the Proposed Decision.

Middle Mile Monthly Map Updates  

The California Department of Technology (CDT) has launched a new monthly map update log for the Middle Mile Broadband Initiative (MMBI). Three views are available for viewing the CDT’s open-access middle-mile map updates: 

  1. Table of changes by county
  2. ArcGIS interactive map that shows the “before and after”
  3. Downloadable data (through ArcGIS) where entities can download the files.

AT&T’s Request for Relief from Carrier of Last Resort Obligations

The CPUC is requesting to hear from local governments, tribal entities, and members of the public. CSAC strongly encourages counties to share comments regarding AT&T’s applications with the CPUC.

Make your voice heard:

  1. Attend one of the eight public participation hearings that will be held between February and March throughout the state. Six in-person hearings (in Fresno, Mendocino, and Riverside Counties) and two virtual hearings will be held.
  2. Submit comments directly to the CPUC’s online public comment portal.

For more information, please see CSAC’s 2.1.24 Bulletin.

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