“Gigafy Phelan” Still in Question with CPUC

Split decisions plagued the California Public Utilities Commission today as they decided the fate of Resolution T-17525 better known as “Gigafy Phelan.”

The project aims to provide symmetrical gigabit Internet service to the Phelan, Pinon Hills and Oak Hills of San Bernardino County which would be sponsored by Race Communications and cost about $27.6 million—through a grant provided by the California Advance Services Fund (CASF). If awarded, Phelan would be the largest community the CASF has ever served.

The area was deemed a “high priority” area back in 2014, meaning the community currently does not meet the CASF minimum requirement of 6 Mbps download and 1.5Mbps upload speeds. The project would serve over 7,600 household within a 98 square mile in an underserved area.

Back in April, Frontier Communications submitted a challenge that would jeopardize Race’s efforts in Phelan, CA. Their challenge was rejected by the CPUC, however this did not stop Frontier from submitting further comments.

If approved, Race’s project would offer residents a futureproof fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband Internet service. On the other hand, Frontier is offering the same copper connectivity, with a few upgrades that may speed up the current connection slightly, but only a certain number of household will be eligible. Leaving the rest of some areas in Phelan still in the dark.

Today, the commission met to discuss what many thought would be the deciding fate of the project, but they ultimately decided to push the actual vote back to Thursday, July 13, 2017.

“I flew up here last night and I found out this morning that there would not be a vote,” said Albert Morrissette I was disappointed when I found that out.”

Mr. Morrissette represents thousands of Phelan residents who struggle with inadequate connectivity in the community. He gave his testimony surrounding daily barriers of lack of connectivity and even testified to the Commission about a Frontier outage just this past Tuesday.

Cynthia Walker, Deputy Director of the Communications Division, California Public Utilities Commission, informed members of the Commission that despite Frontier’s latest challenge, they are having a hard time trying to determine how serious and solid Frontier’s plans are to actually build out the necessary infrastructure to area. One of her staffers noted that this feels a last minute effort on Frontier’s part.

But even with her presentation and team of staffers, members of the commission, were left with uncertainty.

“I am struggling with this one,” said President of the PUC, Michael Picker. “Both of them [Race and Frontier] have demonstrated a commitment to bringing broadband to the area and they have been successful in prior projects.”

“This is a difficult decision”, said Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen. “I would like to see if Frontier and Race can come up with a better solution than just an up and down vote where one entity loses and the other wins.”

“The people in Phelan need Internet access and the Race project is a very good project, it brings fiber to the homes and other institutions which is becoming a necessity, and I wish Frontier had filed an a timely challenge to avoid this situation we are in, but they have stepped up.”

Some commissioners even questioned the benefits of FTTH despite most of the data showing that it adds values to property.

“I do believe that rural Californians deserve fiber, do they need it to every home…is an open question,” said Martha Guzman Aceves. “Do they need it in some point in their community? Public infrastructure is a place where I think fiber is needed in rural California. A hospital, a school, the library and that is the difficulty here…it’s all or nothing.” she continued.

The final decision will hopefully be made on Thursday, 7/13 when the Commission meets again to discuss Resolution T-17525. Race encourages residents to continue writing in to the CPUC with their stories and experiences with Frontier and why they believe they deserve better Internet. Your stories matter to the commissioners.

Please send your emails to:
President Picker – mp6@cpuc.ca.gov
Commissioner Randolph – lr1@cpuc.ca.gov
Commissioner Guzman Acevez – mga@cpuc.ca.gov
Commissioner Peterman – cap@cpuc.ca.gov
Commissioner Rechtschaffen – cr6@cpuc.ca.gov

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Facts You Need to Know About AB 375

What you need to about AB 375

Back in April, Congress sent proposed legislation to President Trump that wiped away the limit of how Internet providers use and sell customer data, Federal officials have now approved that Internet providers can sell your Internet history, app usage, mobile location data, financial information and email content/messages.

In California, lawmakers are trying to reverse the new Federal law by introducing AB 375.

Here’s what you need to know:

1.  Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) introduced the bill last week.

2.  Assembly Bill (AB) 375 is also known as the California Broadband Internet Privacy Act, which will work in three ways:

  • The bill would prohibit an Internet service provider from using, disclosing, selling, or permitting access to customer personal information, except as provided in that act.
  • The bill would authorize a customer to give prior opt-in consent, which may be revoked by the customer at any time, to an Internet service provider to use, disclose, sell, or permit access to that customer’s personal information.
  • The bill would prohibit an Internet service provider from refusing to serve or to limit service to a customer who does not provide consent or charging a customer a penalty or offering a customer a discount or another benefit based on the customer’s decision to provide consent.

3. AB 375 would require Internet Service Providers, such as Verizon, Comcast and AT&T, to get permission from customers before using, selling or permitting access to data about their browsing history.

4. California is the 20th state to introduce a bill that aims to restore privacy rules since the Federal ruling.

5. According to Assemblymember Chau, “The idea that a person should have some say about how their Internet Service Provider can use, share or sell their personal information is not a controversial question for everyday consumers – it is common sense. Congress and the Administration went against the will of the vast majority of Americans when they revoked the FCC’s own privacy rules in April, but California is going to restore what Washington stripped away.”

6. So far, more than 25 civil rights, consumer protection, privacy, technology, and non-profit organizations support AB 375, including: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of California, Consumer Federation of California and Electronic Frontier Foundation

We at Race Communications, believe with full conviction that your information is private and should be disseminated at your own discretion.

Information sent to Race is regarded as private and is kept in the strictest confidence and it will not be sold to third parties for marketing or any other purposes, ever. Rest assured, you can always have the utmost certainty that Race will protect your private information.

Can We Close the Digital Divide?

For Kathy Zimbro of Phelan, CA, it was a 45 day process trying to receive service from an incumbent provider (Frontier), but after all of her exhausted efforts, she ultimately had to attempt to find another provider before moving her business location due to the lack of service.

In the same town, Kimberly Fetzer struggled with the same issues. She was not able to work from home due to constant service outages which resulted in her termination.

These are just some of the stories of people living in the “Digital Divide.”

While many Americans take the Internet for granted, people in rural America struggle to keep up with technology. Over the last decade, a dial up connection brought millions of them Internet access, but with the evolution of services such as: video-on-demand, online job applications, telemedicine and even Internet classrooms, the minimum standard for adequate broadband has been re-defined.

These advances in technology all require a high-speed connection that is almost exclusively available from select elite Internet Service Providers across the country, leaving many Americans in the dark.

Although a home broadband connection was once considered a “luxury” for many, today, as technology advances, the Web is a necessity.

The Digital Divide refers to the inequalities between individuals that lack access to modern information communications technology.

Nationally, approximately 11.5% of the total U.S. population did not have Internet access in 2016.

And in California, despite a robust technology economy, the Digital Divide has become a system for the haves and have nots.

Although the gap has somewhat narrowed, a 2016 survey conducted by the Field Research Corp found that in the state that practically invented the Internet, 30 percent of Californians (nearly 12 million people) do not have meaningful broadband at home.

Most strikingly, the promise of broadband Internet is still elusive for many low-income, elderly and rural Americans either due to high costs or poor to non-existent service in some areas.

Left unchecked, this divide will continue to drive disparities that will weigh on our economy.

At Race Communications, we have made it our company’s mission to provide reliable high-speed Internet. Our fiber optic networks empower our customers to “Gigafy” their daily lives through our Internet, TV and voice packages in areas that often go underserved/unserved.

Our consumers have used Race’s services ranging from starting their own businesses to building out their public safety’s communications in times of emergencies. At Race, we’ve worked with the California Public Utilities Commission and other advocacy groups to build and offer affordable gigabit Internet services to various communities throughout the state.

Call us at 1-877-722-3833 or visit us at Race.com to see if we provide our fiber optic services in your area.

The replies are in – see what we had to say to Frontier re: Resolution T-17525.

We want to “Gigafy Phelan” – and we are doing what we can to ensure that the CPUC will vote “yes” on resolution T-17525 on Thursday 6/29/2017. This morning, our company submitted it’s responses to Frontier and the Office of Ratepayer Advocates explaining why we believe that the areas of Phelan, Pinon Hills and Oak Hills deserve better broadband and should not have to settle for false promises from a company that has failed to deliver over and over again. 

Please find in PDF format, Links to Reply Comments to Frontier, ORA and the Community Letters of Support.
 
Link to Reply Comments to Frontier Communications 
Link to Reply Comments to Office of Ratepayer Advocates “ORA”
Link to Community Letters of Support for T-17525 – Gigafy Phelan
 
You will find letters of support from community leaders and anchor tenants such as:
 
Congressman Paul Cook
CA State Senator Wilk
Assemblymember Lackey
Assemblymember Obernolte
First District Supervisor Lovingood
CalFire
Snowline Joint Unified School
CSU – San Bernardino
Phelan-Pinon Hills CSD
Phelan Chamber of Commerce
Victor Valley College
 
and many more.

With the amount of support letters we received (and submitted), our final response to Frontier ended up being over 90 pages – THANK YOU Phelan, Pinon Hills and Oak Hills! We couldn’t have done it without you. 

Face to Face with Race: Danny Alva

Meet Danny, our newly promoted OSP Team member. He’s been a part of the Race family for two years now.  None of his days are alike. One day could consist of splicing fiber, or overseeing conduit runs. Read more about how Danny spends his time at Race.

How long have you been at Race Communications?

It will be two years in September.

What exactly do you do at Race?

When I was first hired, I was brought on as a field tech, but I just recently moved over to our OSP Team (Outside Plant) about a month and a half ago.

What’s your typical day like?

Since I moved over, I am still learning the basics as to what we are doing. But so far, I’ve plugged in panels for drops and installs. I’ve also done cross connects for splitters, and helped the installers with issues. Basically I am running around right now! I don’t have my daily duties as of yet.

What skills have you gained since working at Race?

The biggest one would have to be splicing fiber. It’s mostly what I’ve been doing for OSP. Other than that, when I was installing, basically being able to install our equipment. So the router and knowing how fiber works. Different things like that, but the biggest has to be the fiber splicing.

What three words would you use to describe Race?

Productive, professional and efficient.

Bonus Question: What’s your favorite sport?

Football!

Any favorite teams?

Of course, the Oakland Raiders! (laughs)

 

 

 

 

A Net Neutrality Protest Is Near…

The battle for net neutrality is on.

Now for those who aren’t really familiar with the term net neutrality, think of it as the basic rights Internet users have to access the Web. This means that Internet providers can’t favor certain websites over others and companies aren’t allowed to charge consumers a fee on popular sites.

Last month, the FCC voted to propose a new review of the rules, with the goal of loosening the regulations on the industry, which aims to slash Title II, the legal framework for net neutrality rules that protects online free speech and innovation.

The proposal also suggests repealing the “general conduct” rule that allows the FCC to investigate business practices of Internet providers that it suspects may be anti-competitive.

But with the new ruling, many of the Internet’s top companies are not in support of this move.

So far, tech giants such as Amazon, Etsy, Netflix and numerous others have all joined the fight—and are calling for a day of action.

Officially, July 12th will be deemed: Internet-Wide Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality.

According to Battleforthenet.com: “The FCC wants to destroy net neutrality and give big cable companies control over what we see and do online. If they get their way, they’ll allow widespread throttling, blocking, censorship, and extra fees. On July 12th, the Internet will come together to stop them.”

At Race, this vote isn’t something we’re for. We believe the Internet is a freedom that has incredible power to change our daily lives. We feel that consumers should be able to visit any site that they choose and use the Internet freely. Whether you decide to stream Netflix or shop on Amazon, consumers should be able to stream without the fear of having their speeds throttled or blocked from visiting certain websites.

If you wish to sign up, learn more information or join the movement, visit: https://www.battleforthenet.com/july12/

 

 

 

Face to Face with Race: Clair Quinnine

For all of our new customers who have placed their orders over the phone, the chances you spoke with San Francisco native Clair Quinnine are very, very high. He’s our newbie to the Sales team and despite only being a few months in, he has earned the title of the Triple Play King! Read more to see how Clair spends his day at Race.

How long have you worked at Race?

I have been at Race for five months.

What exactly do you do at Race? I am an Inside Sales Residential Specialist. I mostly deal with the residential sales. I deal a lot with our database. So like: keeping our database up with our customers, taking sales, making calls and letting customers know about our new services.

What’s your typical day like?

When I get into the office in the mornings, I check our system for incoming messages, voicemails that I either need to call the customer back or send them a message about their questions. I then check our customer database for new customers so I can make any changes.  I then began my sales day, taking incoming calls and making outgoing calls to customers in our database about the services we offer.

If you could switch jobs with anyone at Race, who would it be and why?

I think Nico (our Enterprise Sales Account Representative), he’s more on the business side of things. I would like to learn more of the business. Learning how to put together quotes, or crunching different numbers for enterprise customers seems interesting to me. His work is more in-depth with potential business orders. I think his job is intriguing and I would love to learn more.

What skills have you gained since working at Race?

That’s a great question!  My sales skills have gone up through the roof! My communication skills have also been improved. This a great company to grow in.  I have also learned a lot of new systems such as Pitstop and Hatchbuck. Learning these are great!

What three words would you use to describe Race?

Race is intriguing. Race is optimistic. Race is exciting!

Bonus Question: What celebrity do people think you look like?

[Laughs] I get Morris Chestnut a lot! It’s probably because I’m tall and bald. I get a lot of that. It’s a compliment.