On May 30th of this year, the California Senate approved Senate Bill 822, a bill that aimed to reinstate the net neutrality regulations repealed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last December. Today, June 20, 2018; the California net neutrality bill was gutted in the Assembly committee meeting.
The California net neutrality bill that advocates hailed as the “gold standard” for Internet protections, was “eviscerated,” its chief backer, Sen. Scott Weiner said, in a committee hearing Wednesday morning.
The Senate Bill would have barred ISPs from blocking, throttling or engaging in paid prioritization. SB822 would have also prevented ISPs that don’t abide the prohibitions in the bill from contracting with California state and local governments.
However, in an 8-0 vote, the state Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee adopted amendments to SB822, which removed the provisions that would have given the state the strongest prohibitions against discriminatory treatment of Internet traffic in the country.
Among its recommendations were to allow a debated ISP practice called “zero rating,” where some websites and apps don’t count against a consumer’s data allowance. Opponents view zero rating as a backdoor way of discriminating against online services that don’t sign on with free-data deals with broadband and wireless companies.
Race Communications was in full support of the bill and is saddened by the outcome of today’s committee meeting. Our company will continue to maintain a pro net-neutrality policy and hopes that our peers will continue to do the same.
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.