In case you missed our town hall…

Here is a recap of our recent town hall meeting at the Rood Administrative Center:

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We know many of the residents in our service area lead busy lives and were not able to attend our town hall meeting on Wednesday, January 30. Don’t worry – if you missed the meeting, you can catch it on Facebook through the Nevada County page or on Youtube through the Nevada County Media page once the video is uploaded.

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There was a great turn out for the town hall meeting on 1/30/2019

Lead by Race Communications’ CEO, Raul Alcaraz, the meeting provided a lot of helpful information for the community. Alcaraz covered the company’s history, products and pricing as well as the project’s long history and bright future! Alongside Alcaraz, were several of the Race executive team.

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From left to right: Raul Alcaraz – CEO, Domenic Pacini – VP of OSP & Engineering, Carlos Alcantar – CTO, Jim Miller – VP of Sales & Marketing.

While construction is still a few months away, Alcaraz assured residents that the project would be completed within the timeframe set by the CASF grant. Fiber to the home networks are changing the internet landscape and new fiber networks have quickly become the gold standard for cities across America, and Race is going to ensure that Western Nevada County does not get left behind.

To date, Race has been awarded eleven separate grants through the CASF program to advance broadband adoption and infrastructure deployment in areas such as Mojave, Tehachapi, Phelan and Bridgeport. Of these CASF projects, 9 have been completed and our tenth project is well underway. Bright Fiber will be our 11th CASF project. We have seen a huge benefit from our fiber networks in all of our CASF projects.

It has been a long journey to get to where we are – and there is still work to be done. However, we believe we have the expertise needed to get the project completed within 18 months, if not sooner.

Over 500 residents have paid a $119 deposit for gigabit service, and some deposit payers were wondering about the status of their money. Race will honor everyone’s deposit by applying it as a credit to their first bill. In addition, Race will also be giving deposit payers one free month of data service. In order to apply the credit, Race will create client IDs and provide account and login information to all deposit payers.

We understand that some people may move or simply not be interested in receiving service anymore. For those deposit payers, Race will provide a refund within 30 days of receiving a request. The refund request form can be found on nc.race.com

If you have questions about availability or want to see if your home or business will be in the planned fiber footprint, please check our map on nc.race.com or visit the map directly.

Town Hall scheduled for 1/30 at 7:30 PM

By now, you have heard that Race Communications has acquired Bright Fiber Network, and you’re probably wondering what that means for you as an advocate and supporter of the Bright Fiber project in Western Nevada County.

We have been working tirelessly to move the project along since early 2018. The Bright Fiber Network and its Nevada County project were awarded a $16.2M California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) grant in December of 2015. On January 10th of this year, the CPUC approved the transfer of the Bright Fiber Network from Spiral Internet to Race Communications.

Our team at Race has the experience and expertise to complete the project in an efficient and timely manner having received ten CASF grants, of which nine have been successfully completed. Our tenth project, “Gigafy Phelan” is well underway.

Bringing our services to a community is a resource-intensive project that requires careful research and planning— luckily the majority of the tough legwork has been done. For more information on the project and our plans, please join us for a town hall meeting on Wednesday, January 30th at the Eric Rood Administrative Center in the Board of Supervisors’ Chambers. The meeting will begin at 7:30 PM.

Please be sure to register for the meeting through Eventbrite. Space is limited, don’t wait!

If you cannot make it to the town hall in person, NCTV will be live streaming the town hall on Channel 17.  You may also watch the live stream on Facebook or you can find the recording on Nevada County TV’s YouTube channel afterwards!

CPUC Greenlights Sale of Bright Fiber Network to Race Communications!

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JANUARY 10, 2019

Today, the California Public Utilities Commission (Commission) voted to approve the purchase of Bright Fiber Network, Inc. (Bright Fiber) by Race Telecommunications, Inc. (Race), giving the green light to a $26.8 million dollar fiber-to-the-home build, servicing 1,941 households in western Nevada County. The project was approved with a unanimous 4-0 vote.

The original Commission California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) grant for the project which was awarded to Bright Fiber in December 2015, but was delayed by other federal grant developments and Bright Fiber’s search for financing for required matching funds.  In June 2018, Race announced its planned acquisition of Bright Fiber, which it will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Race to complete and manage the project. A successful Internet Service Provider that has received ten and completed nine Commission rural broadband projects in the state, Race will provide all necessary financing and bring deep technical and managerial expertise to the Bright Fiber project.  

“It’s been a ten-year journey to arrive at the point where construction can finally begin on this transformational gigabit fiber project in an area of rural Nevada County, where broadband Internet access is severely limited,” said John Paul, the President of Bright Fiber.  ”My neighborhood champions, the hundreds of project supporters and I are simply thrilled and grateful that the Commission approved Race taking the helm and completing Bright Fiber’s vision to bring our community into the Information Age.”

To contain costs that steeply rose since the project’s original application in 2013, Bright Fiber and Race proposed an amended project that is 25% underground with 75% aerial installation, meaning that the fiber will be attached to existing poles similar to telephone and electric facilities.  The Commission reviewed and approved these changes to the broadband project, including a $69,534 reduction in the CASF grant, now amended to $16,086,789.  The revised total cost of the project will be $26,811,315. The Commission found that the lack of reliable and affordable broadband in the project area remains the case today, and this transfer allows the project to be completed. Under Assembly Bill 1665, the Commission is working to provide broadband to 98% of the residents in the state by region.

The Commission granted an extension of the original deadline for construction to May 2020.  Race has already completed the engineering for the amended project and said it will immediately begin the permitting process with the local authorities and seek to complete the project within the required timeframe.

“Race is humbled and grateful that the Commission has moved quickly to approve this transfer of control of Bright Fiber and review the needed CASF project changes so that Race can construct this important project for the community,” said Raul Alcaraz, President of Race.  “Our team at Race has been blessed to have a successful track record of CASF projects, and we feel confident we can deliver a reliable, fast and affordable broadband system.”

Race and Bright Fiber will hold a Town Hall meeting for the community in the evening on Wednesday, January 30th to describe the amended project to interested community members and to answer any questions.  The location and time of the Town Hall will be announced shortly.
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Founded in 1994, Race Telecommunications, Inc. has a successful track record of delivering high-speed fiber solutions to rural and disadvantaged communities that are both affordable and sustainable. Working in partnership with the California Public Utilities Commission and non-profit community advocacy groups, Race has made it its mission to bridge the Digital Divide in California.

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Bright Fiber Network, Inc. is an independent internet service provider in Nevada County.  The company began as Spiral Internet in May 2006. Since its inception, Bright Fiber has evolved its business and service offerings in the rural broadband market and has worked tirelessly to bring a state-of-the-art fiber network to western Nevada County.  After the sale of BFN to Race, BFN will work exclusively on the fiber-to-the-home CASF project. A separate company, Spiral Internet LLC, has been spun off from BFN and will offer web hosting, dial-up, email, and DSL resale services under the leadership of John Paul.

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/

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.