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.

 

Race Communications Named Large Business of the Year in Tehachapi, CA

Race does our best to provide our customers excellent services and 2017 was a reflection of that.  Well, the proof is in the pudding as Race Communications was just named the 2018 Large Business of the Year by the Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce and Tehachapi News. Here’s the article from The Tehachapi News, CLICK HERE. 

Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 12.47.57 PM
Ida Perkins – Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce, Ally Hetland – Race Communications’ Marketing Manager, Stephanie Ursua – Tehachapi News, Jim Miller – Race Communications’ VP of Sales and Marketing.

Race provides fiber internet, TV and phone services for areas in Tehachapi with over 1,400 connected customers and counting.  Race services are now live and available in the communities of Stallion Springs, Oak Knolls, Alpine Forest, Cummings Valley and Bear Valley Springs.

We are thankful for all of the support from the Greater Tehachapi community and are planning on doing even bigger things in 2018.

Race Gigathon Rolled Out in Phelan

Residents of the Phelan, Piñon Hills and Oak Hills areas of San Bernardino County were in attendance for the 2nd “Gigafy Phelan” Town Hall as Race Communications rolled out it’s Race Gigathon, where residents can win prizes including 1 year of FREE internet service from Race.

Project Update:

Race has purchased property in the Phelan area as part of their project to service over 10,000 households with fiber to the home.  Currently, engineers are testing utility poles and performing land surveys to assist with the final designs of Race’s Fiber network.  Race announced that the project in Phelan will be divided into zones which will be announced at a later time.

Race Gigathon:

The announcement of the Race Gigathon was received with much fanfare. Those in attendance participated in the #RELAY portion of the Gigathon by asking questions to Race Team members.  Race raffled off 1 FREE month of Race Internet while one lucky winner will win 1 year of FREE internet at the finish of the Gigathon.   Instructions on how to play and enter into the Gigathon are available at https://www.race.com/gigathon.

Gigafy Phelan Town Hall:

Race will hold their next town hall on January 20th with the time and location still to be determined.  Make sure you are receiving our project updates by filling out our Inquiry Form.  Share with your neighbors and friends so they can receive updates as well.

Check out our Race Communications YouTube Channel

Race YouTube Channel

 

 

 

The Race Team Had a BLAST at Phelan Phamily Phun Days!

Race Communications rolled into town in the new Race “GIGA-MOBILE”  for the annual “Phelan Phamily Phun Days” in Phelan, CA.  The event included a carnival, bands, performances and a number of vendor booths.  Race team members participated alongside 20-25 other vendors, which included The Pizza Factory, Maui Wowi, CERT, The Desert Keepers, Metro PCS and more.  

We had a BLAST and plan on attending many more events in the Phelan area during our “Gigafy Phelan” Fiber Internet Project.  If you’d like to stay up to date with Race events and construction please fill out our Inquiry Form.

Race will also be making a huge announcement at our upcoming town hall meeting, so mark your calendars!

Race “Gigafy Phelan” Town Hall Meeting 

Friday November, 17th from 6-8pm at the Piñon Mesa Middle School Auditorium

9298 Sheep Creek Rd, Phelan, CA 92371