We at Race Communications always strive to be transparent with the communities we serve. As most of our customers know, Race partners with the State of California and receives grants from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF). To date, Race has been awarded ten separate grants from the CASF to advance broadband adoption and infrastructure deployment in unserved and underserved areas consisting of over 16,000 households. The grants only cover a portion of the construction cost, up to 60% for most projects. That means Race funds the remaining amount.
The feedback from Race customers once they are connected has been tremendous and many are taken aback by how fast their internet speeds are (Figure 1). This leads to a lot of interest from nearby friends and family – some of whom live outside our coverage area. This is often followed by the following questions: “I live right down the street! Why can’t I get Race?” or “I have terrible internet, why aren’t you coming to my area?”.
Due to the requirements of CASF, we must serve the areas deemed unserved or underserved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). According to the CPUC, an underserved area is defined as follows: where broadband is available, but no wireline or wireless facilities-based provider offers service at advertised speeds of at least 6 mbps download and 1.5 mbps upload. This means that on occasion, we will be asked to remove an area from our initial application.
Let’s use our newest approved CASF project in Phelan, CA as an example. We call it the “swiss cheese” effect (Figure 2).
As you can see by the coverage map in blue, there are gaps and pockets that are not within the coverage area. Those areas are deemed “served” by the CPUC, meaning that these areas have broadband available at speeds of at least 6 mbps download and 1.5 mbps upload. This means that the CPUC has performed speed tests in the area which show that the minimum speed requirements have been met. In other instances, another carrier may claim to provide service in that area. This will disqualify an area from receiving CASF funding for broadband upgrades.
We at Race know that this doesn’t always mean the entire area has adequate coverage and broadband connectivity can be lacking or even non-existent – therefore we evaluate building to the areas taken out as a separate project. Lee Vining, CA in Mono County is one such community. The entire town of Lee Vining was removed from a previous CASF application, but due to the location of our infrastructure and the level of interest from the community, Race decided to build a fiber-to-the-home network to the community. The project was 100% self-funded.
So if you happen to fall outside our coverage area, don’t lose hope. This doesn’t mean that you will not receive service from Race – it simply means that your area doesn’t fall under the CASF guidelines and will not be built as part of a CASF-funded project. It doesn’t mean that Race won’t expand service as part of a separate project in the future [if the demand is there and existing infrastructure makes it possible]. We encourage those who live outside our coverage areas to submit an “Out of Area” inquiry form at www.race.com/inquiry. Race engineers are constantly reevaluating possible expansions to our coverage areas.