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Mendo Broadband Denied

Supervisor Hamburg last Tuesday told his Board colleagues about a Friday, May 17 meeting in Fort Bragg to discuss internet broadband service in the county. “The focus will be broadband planning in the city of Fort Bragg. And of course Fort Bragg is on that fiber-optic so-called Route 1 Corridor project which I've mentioned several times before. That's the one that goes from Branscomb to Westport and down to Bodega Bay and back over to Petaluma, which is actually part of that Golden Bear Broadband application which is currently before the PUC. We are getting a lot of pushback from the big telecoms — Verizon, Frontier, AT&T, Comcast. Essentially, there is a lot of maneuvering going on in Sacramento around broadband. Included in that is this bill by Senator Padilla, AB-740, which this board has supported, but now the big telecoms are coming down against AB-740. … Basically the big telecoms don't want money to be allocated to organizations like ours who are trying to bring broadband to the rural communities; they don't want the competition. They are very happy to not serve these areas until they're damn well ready to serve them. They are calling our Golden Bear project — they say we are getting into areas where private operators or themselves as private corporations should be able to operate. The only hole in that argument is that they are not serving these areas. Unless you are on a major core highway like Highway 5 or Highway 101 you do not have service in Northern California and that situation exists in Mendocino County. And it exists in all these 16 or 17 counties that are part of the Golden Bear Broadband network. So it's kind of a battle royal that's going on in Sacramento right now over AB-740 and also over our application to the CPUC. We are lobbying hard. … The telecom lobbyists in Sacramento are trying to squelch our efforts. But we have some good political support on our side and we are fighting the battle.”

But later in the week, news out of Sacramento reported that funding for Padilla’s broadband infrastructure bill (via the California Public Utillities Commission) had been cut by $100 million, and the bill was amended to substantially restrict the definition of “underserved” to include language that would limit funding to areas where no big telecom company had applied for a permit which isn’t very many areas in California.


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