How the CASF Is Bridging the Digital Divide

Since 2008 the California Public Utilities Commission has

helped bridged the digital divide through the use of the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF). This fund has helped bring broadband to underserved and unserved communities throughout the state of California. Since its inception, the program has funded a variety of broadband projects, including several fiber-based, gigabit projects like Gigafy Phelan. These projects aim to close the digital divide, and companies throughout the state continue to apply for further funding. In this article, we’ll explore exactly what the CASF funds are, a brief history of the program, the types of grants available, and how Race uses them to bring high-speed quality internet to communities.

What is the California Advanced Services Fund? 

The California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) provides funding for the deployment of broadband infrastructure to areas of the state that are unserved or underserved. CASF aims to close the digital divide bringing broadband to 98% of households in each consortia region by December 31, 2022. And they are well on the way to achieving that goal. As of December 31, 2018, 97.1 percent of California households are in census blocks with access to broadband services reaching speeds of 6Mbps down and 1Mbs up or greater. 

Unserved areas are eligible for up to a 70% CASF matching grant. These grants are used for areas without high-speed internet access and often prioritize areas with rugged terrain, making infrastructure development costs too high for companies and investors to fund alone. 

Underserved areas are eligible for 60% CASF matching grants. These areas typically have broadband or internet services but at very slow speeds and do not perform well. The funds allow internet providers to increase speeds to at least 6 Megabits per second download and 1.5mbps upload. 

CASF Map

Above is a map of the consortia regions of the State of California. Source: 2020 Annual CASF Report

CASF: A Brief History 

In December of 2007, the Commission authorized the CASF. The CASF provided grants to telecom corporations to bridge the digital divide and bring high-speed ethernet to California’s unserved and underserved communities. Since then, the program has helped fund over 798 projects and awarded funds totaling over 300 million dollars. 

How Are the Grants Funded?

The CASF initially started as a 23 cents tax collected on phone bills. Currently, CSAF grants are funded by a surcharge rate from revenues collected by telecommunications carriers and remitted to the state.

Types of Grants Available 

Infrastructure, Loan, and Line-Extension Grant

Provides broadband access to households that are within the last miles of existing infrastructure. This includes the line extension program.

Rural and Regional Urban Consortia Grant 

The Rural and Regional Urban Consortia Grant funds the cost of broadband deployment activities. However, the grant doesn’t support any capital costs of the facilities which the Commission determines. 

Tribal Assistance Program

Provides technical assistance in developing market studies, feasibility studies, and business plans which support tribal communities to improve communications. 

How Do You Get a CASF Grant? 

Telecommunication companies have to compete for these grants, and often the way to earn them is through finding the most cost-effective solution to bringing services. To maximize the grant, Race utilizes current and existing utilities and utility easements. This reduces the cost and allows us to create a more extensive infrastructure. For example, if the utilities are all above ground near your home, Race will utilize that existing infrastructure instead of trenching underground utilities to your home. On the other hand, if there are no existing utilities, building above-ground infrastructures is often most cost-effective.

Race Communications - CASF

How does Race Communications use CASF? 

Race Communications has received California grants to cover up to 60 percent of construction costs, including the labor, equipment, and materials required to bring fiber or cable internet to a region. The percent of funding is based on the needs of the area. This funding does not include operational costs (the expenses of day-to-day business).

CASF Key Takeaways: 

  • CASF grants were created to bring broadband internet to both unserved and underserved communities with the goal of 98% of households in each consortia region by 2022. 
  • Race Communications has received CASF grants which cover up to 60% of construction costs and utilize existing utilities to lower infrastructure costs. 
  • Grants are funded by a surcharge rate from revenues that are collected by telecommunications carriers and paid by the end-users

8 Elements that Make the Best Internet for Gaming 

With more than 2.5 billion video gamers around the world, it’s no surprise that we are often asked, “what should I look for to find the best internet for gaming?” The answer to that question is complicated, so today, we’re walking you through eight elements that create the best internet for gaming. These suggestions will help you narrow down providers and find a service that fits your needs. By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to find internet solutions that allow you to play on– and smoothly!

1. High-Speed Connections

Slow internet makes for a terrible gaming experience and is definitely not the best internet for gaming. If speeds are slow, you’ll be met with freezing and lagging, which will ruin your game. To improve your gaming experience, you need to have high-speed internet. Ideally, 35 Mbps or higher to help you avoid lag time and latency issues. This will also allow you to communicate in real-time with your friends while gaming. 

2. Check into Latency

You want the best internet for gaming, and latency plays a huge role in this!  Latency is the average time it takes your gaming device to send the data to the game server and then send it back to you. Latency is measured in milliseconds and pings. Pings are how fast you get messages from other players or your gaming server after making your move. The lower your latency, the better. Lower latency allows for smoother gameplay. 20ms – 40 ms is optimal, but anything under 75- 100 ms is acceptable for gaming. You’ll achieve these speeds by investing in high-speed internet combats latency by enabling data to be sent and received quickly. 

3. Low Lag Time 

Lag time is the time difference between your gaming server sending information and your screen displaying it. Essentially, it’s how long it takes to see the commands you input into your controller shown in action on the screen. For optimal gaming, lag time should be to be less than 15ms. High-speed internet plays a role in lag time, but you also need to play on a monitor or TV with a high refresh rate (sometimes referred to as game mode). A screen designed for gaming will maximize your experience by reducing lag time. 

5. Reliability Reins 

When you’re gaming, you want internet that won’t quit! Fiber optic internet is a great option when it comes to reliability. Fiber is composed of tiny glass strands that send data through light. Because of this, it’s less susceptible to power outages and weather extremes that are known to cause loss of connectivity in other types of internet. 

6. Avoid Data Caps

Gaming requires a lot of data. You’re constantly sending and receiving information, and it adds up quickly.  Some internet providers place limits on the amount of data that you can use in a given month. How a provider caps your data can vary, some providers slow down your speeds while others charge you data overages. This isn’t ideal for a gamer! Instead of worrying about data caps, choose an internet provider with unlimited data. 

7. Bandwidth Is Critical 

Bandwidth is the maximum amount of data your internet can handle. When you are gaming, high amounts of data are sent over your internet connection. Due to the volume, there’s a demand for plenty of bandwidth to keep up. 

In addition, remember that bandwidth is affected by ALL devices in your home. For example, if you’re gaming and someone else is streaming a movie in the next room over, it can slow down your connection causing a less than stellar gaming session. To combat this, look into fiber internet. Fiber is better suited to handle the demands of a connected home.

8. Hardwired Connections Improve the Experience 

The type of internet and speed will only get you so far searching for the best internet for gaming. You’ll also need to consider how you are plugging into your internet connection. Wifi is highly convenient, but internet speeds are not typically as fast as a hardwired connection. In addition, a lot can affect your wireless connection, such as distance from the router or how many devices are connected to wifi. Connecting your gaming device straight to a dedicated ethernet port can help you maintain fast speeds and eliminate any wifi bandwidth issues. 

Conclusion! Play On and Find the Best Internet for Gaming! 

Now you understand what elements you’ll need to find the best internet for gaming. Take these eight considerations with you on your search for internet providers, and you’ll be well on your way to finding the best services for you. And fewer internet issues = more time for gaming, so take the time to find a provider that works well for you and your lifestyle. Are you looking for high-speed, reliable internet for gamers, contact our specialists at 877-722-3833 or submit an inquiry and we will help you pick the right service for you.