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CPUC May Vote March 7 on Public Housing Program Update

Public housing broadband grant recipients should provide free service without government subsidies, the California Public Utilities Commission could soon clarify. The CPUC may vote March 7 on a proposed decision that would adopt changes to the California Advanced Services Fund…

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(CASF) broadband public housing account and tribal technical assistance program (docket R.20-08-021). Responding to some commenters’ questions about the public housing program’s no-cost broadband obligation (see 2312140034), the CPUC would clarify that "the Commission’s intent is for BPHA grant recipients to provide broadband service at no cost to residents of the low-income community, without public purpose subsidies or other funding, which is consistent with our determination in Resolution T-17775 that ‘no cost’ means unsubsidized service that is free to customers.” The CPUC rejected a cable industry challenge to that resolution in September, affirming that service the affordable connectivity program subsidizes doesn’t count as free (see 2309010006). In general, the CPUC’s possible changes to the broadband public housing account “expand eligibility for non-publicly supported housing developments and for project costs to facilitate deployment of broadband networks in low-income communities that lack access to free broadband service that meets state standards,” the proposed decision said Monday. Changes to the tribal technical assistance program would align it with the local agency technical assistance program, the CPUC added. In a separate proceeding on utility service affordability (docket 18-07-006), the California Broadband and Video Association warned the CPUC not to expand the proceeding's focus beyond gas, water and electric. ISPs aren’t public utilities, the state cable association said Thursday. “The broadband marketplace continues to be marked by extensive and rapidly increasing competition across a variety of technologies and platforms, which disciplines prices and improves affordability without regulatory price controls.”