The battle for better connectivity in Rural California

Over the last decade, California’s urban centers have become technology hubs, cities where free Wi-Fi and fiber-optic lines are ubiquitous. But in low-income neighborhoods, across the state’s inland regions, and in rural communities — often home to large migrant populations — families struggle to connect at all.

Some elected officials see that reality as proof that a digital divide is leaving many people behind. And they’ve set out to remedy it.

In 2007, the state established the California Advanced Services Fund to offer companies incentive to help bridge the gap. The program has allowed broadband providers to apply for nearly $300 million in grants to bring fiber optic, copper, and other cable lines to some of the poorest and hardest-to-reach regions in the state.

The goal was to connect 98% of the 12.9 million homes across California, one that as of 2016 was within a few percentage points of being fulfilled. But while nearly 12.3 million homes in urban areas had some form of wireline broadband service by that year, less than half of roughly 680,900 households in rural areas had been connected.

This month, the reboot of the CASF program, which began in 2017, continues, with a new round of comments and suggestions landing at the California Public Utilities Commission. While incumbent and independent providers such as Race attempt to navigate the new bill, many California residents continue to pay too much for poor internet service. Many of the issues boil down to incumbent providers not fulfilling their end of the deal.

For example, when the CPUC allowed Frontier Communications to buy Verizon’s wireline systems in California, it imposed a long list of conditions, including commitments made as part of settlements reached with organizations that objected to the deal. Some of those obligations required Frontier to upgrade broadband service to more than 800,000 homes. In a recent complaint filed with the CPUC, the California Emerging Technology Fund claimed that Frontier “does not intend to honor” its commitments, including, among other things, the upgrade schedule it offered in 2016.

In addition, Frontier Communications failed to meet California phone service repair standards in 2017. It’s supposed to restore service within a certain amount of time 90% of the time in any given month, in every one of its Californian service territories. According to two draft resolutions currently with the CPUC, two of Frontier’s three subsidiaries missed the mark every single month.

Race Communications is dedicated to providing reliable, high-speed internet and advanced communications at an affordable price. Working in partnership with the California Public Utilities Commission and a number of non-profit community advocacy groups, Race focuses much of its efforts towards building out fiber networks and offering gigabit internet service to communities throughout California. As the battle continues for better connectivity, Race will continue to work towards its goal and mission to provide the best in Internet technology and customer service.

sources:
latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-digital-divide-rural-communities-20180118-htmlstory.html
https://www.tellusventure.com/blog/page/3/

Getting Gigafied in Phelan, CA!

As of Monday, May 21st, Race Communications has installed the first group of customers in the “Gigafy Phelan” Project! Race Communications has been working tirelessly to bring Fiber Internet to the Phelan, Pinon Hills, and Oak Hills area since the project was first approved in July 2017.

150 homes made up the initial soft release group, and residents are already sharing their speed tests on social media. Some homeowners have clocked in with speeds over 900 Mbps down and up! In addition, the Race team made sure to attend today’s Farmer’s Market to provide answers, take orders and give away Race swag!

Race Communications looks forward to continuing to “Gigafy Phelan” and highly encourages everyone to submit an inquiry, and check availability through the company website and the service coverage map.

Does the FCC Think You Have Sufficient Internet Service?

If you read our previous blogs about AB 1665 and Net Neutrality, you know that the FCC and the State of California are implementing new regulations that will have an impact on carriers like Race Communications when it comes to receiving funding for broadband projects.  To date, Race has been awarded approximately $71 million from 10 separate CASF grants covering 60% of project costs. 

At the end of 2017, the FCC determined which areas in the country are eligible for funding from the Connect America Fund (CAF) to bring broadband internet to unserved areas. The eligible areas are determined through the data that the FCC receives from broadband providers every 6 months.  

Here’s the catch.  

The data that determines if your area is eligible for funding isn’t based off of actual service being provided.  Consumers are considered “served” if a broadband provider indicates that they can provide service to “any census block where at least one home could potentially get 10/1Mbps broadband service within a reasonable amount of time.” Yes that’s right.  That means if you live on a block in which a broadband provider can potentially connect just one home with required speeds, then the entire block is deemed served.  

Here’s the kicker.

The newest data from the FCC shows a reduction of unserved areas by 30% when compared to the data just 16 months prior.  That means less areas are eligible for funding from the CAF and makes it more difficult for providers like Race to submit for grants.  Race will continue to excel in providing service to the underserved and rural communities.

You can contact the FCC here at the Consumer Complaint Center to let your voice be heard.

 

Never Fear! Race Continues to Support Net Neutrality

In May 2017, Race Communications ensured our customers that we would support Net Neutrality.  Even though the rules and regulations on how the internet runs has changed we continue that promise.  Though this topic has become very political in nature, being a smaller internet service provider who will continue to protect our customers’ privacy and not throttle their internet speeds is beneficial for Race Communications, our customers and the internet as whole.  

raceralph

Race Communications has stood by the mission of providing service to underserved communities and to those communities that larger providers have long ignored.  It would only make sense for Race to continue support Net Neutrality and not let our services be affected by this change in regulations.  Be happy that you are a Race customer! If you don’t have Race and are in our service area, call our team at 877-722-3833 or visit www.race.com to get started today.  

The Fiber Path to Your Home

Race_The Fiber Path to Your Home_2

Many Race Customers are very happy with their internet speeds once they get installed.  Here’s a simple infographic showing how fiber is connected to your home.
Remember: Fiber-optic is NOT like copper wiring that most internet service providers use.  With Fiber, customers do not lose broadband speed or capacity during peak usage times like with copper.  Your home will have a dedicated internet signal with symmetrical download and upload speeds.
  1. Fiber Optic cable is run via an aerial or underground drop to the “clamshell” which is installed outside of the home.
  2. The “clamshell” unit on the outside of the home houses the fiber cable that is run through the wall and connected to the Optical Network Terminal (ONT).
  3. The ONT converts the laser light signal from the fiber into an electrical signal.  CAT 5 or 6 cable is then run from the ONT to the router.
  4. If using our Race router, you will be able to hardwire devices using CAT 5 or 6 cable or utilize it’s 2 channel WiFi signal to connect to the internet.
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