The authoritative news source for communications regulation
AT&T, Foster-Youth Items Held

CPUC Clears $7M in CASF Broadband Grants

The California Public Utilities Commission will release more than $7 million in California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) support for broadband, commissioners decided Thursday. They voted 3-0 on three separate items that clear the way for projects by fixed wireless ISPs Cruzio and Kwikbit and the Anza Electric Cooperative. The CPUC delayed voting on an AT&T service quality enforcement item and a plan making the California LifeLine foster youth program permanent.

Start A Trial

Commissioners cleared a $5.56 million CASF broadband infrastructure grant to Cruzio. Under draft resolution T-17810, Cruzio may construct a fixed-wireless middle- and last-mile broadband network with 1 Gbps symmetrical speeds to 759 unserved locations in San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. CPUC Executive Director Rachel Peterson noted that the commission reduced the size of the project after Cruzio’s initial proposal received many challenges.

In addition, commissioners approved about $889,000 from the CASF infrastructure grant account for a proposed mobile home park project by Kwikbit Internet. Kwikbit proposed a fixed wireless network with 1 Gbps symmetrical speeds for 197 unserved mobile homes in four parks in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego counties, according to proposed resolution T-17808. Last, the CPUC passed another proposed resolution (T-17807) that approves a deviation from CPUC rules so that Anza Electric Cooperative can place 3.74 linear miles of fiber on existing poles to construct a fiber-to-the-home project. The action lets CPUC staff release $688,431 for the project that was approved in November.

These are some of the first projects from the current grant round for CASF,” said CPUC President Alice Reynolds. The Cruzio and Kwikbit projects show “effective uses of fixed wireless technology,” she noted. “They offer fast and affordable service options and will get many Californians connected.” The commission is currently reviewing more than $5 billion in broadband funding requests from CASF and federal accounts, said Reynolds. The demand shows that CPUC grant programs “really are a much-needed resource for last-mile connectivity.”

The grants are an “important step” toward ensuring “all Californians have access to essential broadband service,” said Commissioner Darcie Houck. “These grants will support last-mile fiber projects and, when necessary, fixed wireless technology.” Commissioner Karen Douglas said she looks forward to “more to come.” Commissioners Genevieve Shiroma and John Reynolds were absent from the meeting.

Earlier in the meeting, CPUC members voted 3-0 for a motion by the president to hold an AT&T enforcement item until the March 21 meeting. A proposed resolution (T-177789) would deny the carrier’s corrective action plan (CAP) explaining how it will correct failures and improve service after failing to meet the state’s out-of-service (OOS) repair interval standard in 2021. The standard requires carriers to complete at least 90% of outage repair tickets within 24 hours. The commission had required the CAP as a condition to approving AT&T’s Feb. 2022 choice to invest $6.18 million on service quality improvement rather than pay a CPUC fine for half that amount, $3.09 million. The commission’s General Order (GO) 133-D rules let carriers invest rather than pay penalties.

AT&T’s March-submitted plan is unsatisfactory, the draft resolution found. “AT&T has consistently failed to meet the OOS standard statewide in each month since GO 133-D was adopted in 2017,” said the draft. “The two-year monthly targets proposed in the CAP … fail to bring AT&T into compliance with GO 133-D service quality standards.” Plus, AT&T didn't file required quarterly updates “and its performance and outage assessments were incomplete,” it said. “AT&T stated that [it] is not willing to invest in hiring and training the number of technicians needed to bring them into compliance with the OOS standard.” The resolution would direct the CPUC enforcement division “to take whatever action it finds appropriate.” AT&T declined to comment Thursday.

CPUC staff held until the March 7 meeting an item about making permanent a pilot program that provides smartphones and wireless service for foster youth (docket R.20-02-008). T-Mobile, which provides service for the existing foster youth pilot program, said last month that it wouldn’t continue after July 31, when the program becomes permanent (see 2401310030). The CPUC might have held the item because of uncertainty over who will provide service for the permanent program, said Alexandra Green, telecommunications regulatory attorney for The Utility Reform Network.