Race Communications’ Summer Review.

2018 has been filled with releases, events, and expansion for Race Communications. In May, the company officially opened a new office in Tehachapi, CA where the company has a strong fiber footprint in the outlying communities of Stallion Springs, Brite Valley, Oak Knolls and Bear Valley Springs. Race has hired several local residents to build their marketing and sales team and is revving up their efforts in their service areas in the High Desert and Central Valley.

The month of May also brought the release of the first part of the “Gigafy Phelan” project, a hard-fought project that was approved in July 2017, after years of challenges and obstacles.

Since June 2018, Race has installed 98% of the residents who had previously inquired about service in the released zone – the release came two full months ahead of the initial target date of August 2018. “Gigafy Phelan” was not the only project to be released – the “Gigafy Occidental” project in Northern California was also released and installs began immediately. At this time over 70 percent of the community has signed up for services from Race.

The release of these communities has given Race the momentum to continue their expansion and Race opened a new field operations office in Phelan, CA and marked the occasion with a BBQ Kick-Off and ribbon cutting ceremony on June 21st. The company was recognized by Congressman Cook’s office for their efforts in the area and for their continued work in rural unserved and underserved areas across the state.

 

Race looks forward to the second half of 2018 and continued progress. Race is on a mission to provide affordable high-speed broadband to the communities where larger carriers have ignored the needs of the residents. Race will continue to support net-neutrality, promote broadband access and adoption, and will continue to seek out new projects in unserved and underserved regions in California.

Finally, a big THANK YOU to those who have chosen Race as their new service provider as we could not have done this without you. Our customers are part of the Race family, and we look forward to providing our customers with the newest technology and the friendly customer service they have come to know.  Stay tuned for more exciting news from Race as the year progresses!

 

We are RACING to Phelan Phamily Phun Days đźš—đź’¨

The Fall season has arrived and Race Communications will be in attendance at this year’s Phelan Phamily Phun Days,  Friday through Sunday on October 13 – 15th.  This is just one of many events that Race will be in attendance while we prepare to “Gigafy Phelan”.  Come out to the Phelan Community Center & Park and look for our Race Communications booth, say hello, pick up some Race swag and have a great time.

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Following suit with Race’s mission statement we focus on “providing reliable, high-speed internet and advanced communications at an affordable price.”  Each one of our projects are uniquely different so we strive to get to know the communities that we end up serving.  Race spent three years to get this project approved and we have some great things in store while we go through each stage of our fiber to premise (FTTP) process.

Phelan Phamily Phun Days is a long standing tradition in the Tri-Community which consists of Phelan, Piñon Hills, Wrightwood and the surrounding areas.  There will be live entertainment, carnival rides and the crowning of Miss Phelan 2017.  This is a three-day event for the whole family to enjoy.  

 

Everyone Wants Race! What If I’m Outside the Coverage Area?

We at Race Communications always strive to be transparent with the communities we serve.  As most of our customers know, Race partners with the State of California and receives grants from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF).  To date, Race has been awarded ten separate grants from the CASF to advance broadband adoption and infrastructure deployment in unserved and underserved areas consisting of over 16,000 households. The grants only cover a portion of the construction cost, up to 60% for most projects. That means Race funds the remaining amount.

The feedback from Race customers once they are connected has been tremendous and many are taken aback by how fast their internet speeds are (Figure 1).  This leads to a lot of interest from nearby friends and family – some of whom live outside our coverage area. This is often followed by the following questions: “I live right down the street! Why can’t I get Race?” or “I have terrible internet, why aren’t you coming to my area?”.

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Figure 1. Race Customer Speed Test in Tehachapi, CA

Due to the requirements of CASF, we must serve the areas deemed unserved or underserved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).  According to the CPUC, an underserved area is defined as follows: where broadband is available, but no wireline or wireless facilities-based provider offers service at advertised speeds of at least 6 mbps download and 1.5 mbps upload.  This means that on occasion, we will be asked to remove an area from our initial application.

Let’s use our newest approved CASF project in Phelan, CA as an example.  We call it the “swiss cheese” effect (Figure 2).  

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Figure 2. Phelan, CA Coverage Map

As you can see by the coverage map in blue, there are gaps and pockets that are not within the coverage area.  Those areas are deemed “served” by the CPUC, meaning that these areas have broadband available at speeds of at least 6 mbps download and 1.5 mbps upload. This means that the CPUC has performed speed tests in the area which show that the minimum speed requirements have been met.  In other instances, another carrier may claim to provide service in that area.  This will disqualify an area from receiving CASF funding for broadband upgrades.

We at Race know that this doesn’t always mean the entire area has adequate coverage and broadband connectivity can be lacking or even non-existent – therefore we evaluate building to the areas taken out as a separate project. Lee Vining, CA in Mono County is one such community.  The entire town of Lee Vining was removed from a previous CASF application, but due to the location of our infrastructure and the level of interest from the community, Race decided to build a fiber-to-the-home network to the community. The project was 100% self-funded.

So if you happen to fall outside our coverage area, don’t lose hope.  This doesn’t mean that you will not receive service from Race – it simply means that your area doesn’t fall under the CASF guidelines and will not be built as part of a CASF-funded project. It doesn’t mean that Race won’t expand service as part of a separate project in the future [if the demand is there and existing infrastructure makes it possible]. We encourage those who live outside our coverage areas to submit an “Out of Area” inquiry form at www.race.com/inquiry.  Race engineers are constantly reevaluating possible expansions to our coverage areas.  

The Internet for All Act?

This week the California Assembly Bill 1665, dubbed “The Internet for All Act”, was amended and passed through to the State Senate claiming that the appropriated $300 million it raises from surcharges will help to close the digital divide in California.  On the surface, this is a positive move towards providing broadband internet service to “underserved households”. But is it really?

What you need to know:

AB 1665 was amended by assembly members like Eduardo Garcia (56th Assembly District) to mainly benefit large internet providers like AT&T and Frontier Communications.  Frontier Communications has a long-standing history in over promising and under-delivering when it comes to bringing adequate broadband to many of their markets, especially those that are rural.  The community of Phelan, CA is a prime example of how dissatisfied customers are with their service from Frontier. This is in part why Race Communications was awarded the a $27.6 million dollar grant in July 2017. The grant was awarded by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF). The grant is for Race Communications’ broadband project in the Phelan region and will bring a brand new fiber to the home network to over 7,600 households.

As AB 1665 has been re-written so has the definition of “underserved households” and the definition of “underserved households” should raise eyebrows amongst California residents.

Here is what the current bill says and how consumers should read between the lines:

AB 1665: “Households for which no broadband provider offers broadband service at speeds of at least 6 megabits per second (mbps) downstream and one mbps upstream.”

What does that mean? This means that if your household is receiving anything above speeds of 6 Mbps you are deemed “served”.  The original bill put this benchmark of at least 6Mbps download/1.5Mbps upload.  We at Race know that speeds below 25 Mbps aren’t sufficient for consumers anymore.  

This requirement is also far below the benchmark set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2016, of at least 25Mbps download/3Mbps upload

AB 1665: “Projects that only deploy middle-mile infrastructure are not eligible for grant funding.”

Race currently has projects in Mono County which are connected to the middle-mile infrastructure provided by the Digital 395 middle-mile project.  If AB 1665 passes with the current wording regarding “middle-mile infrastructure” then projects such as Digital 395 and Digital 299 wouldn’t be eligible for future grants. These types of projects are crucial for the build out of adequate broadband service in rural communities. Without these projects, last mile providers like Race would not be able to provide service to remote areas like Chalfant Valley, Sunny Slopes and Bridgeport.

So what does this mean for consumers?
In a nutshell, this means less areas qualify for receiving funds from the state and the money will most likely go to AT&T, Frontier and larger broadband providers who historically avoid building infrastructure in rural areas, due to the costs associated.  This also means that smaller independent providers like Race will face extreme difficulty in qualifying for grants from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) should the bill pass as it is currently written.

We know that the two main reasons why consumers switch their internet providers are price and performance.  Race surpasses the competition in both.  Race provides fiber-optic broadband internet service which outperforms internet service via copper wiring like AT&T and Frontier.  With over 20 active projects across the state of California, Race has seen the benefits of CASF and what adequate broadband can do for rural communities.


What can you do?
If you feel that your community deserves to be brought into today’s technologically advanced world, let your voice be heard and write Governor Jerry Brown’s Office and let him know why he should veto AB-1665. Demand adequate broadband service and oppose lowering the standards and elevating the barrier of entry for independent providers.  You can visit Governor Brown’s website here or call (916) 445-2841. 

 

Race Communications to Hold “Gigafy Phelan” Town Hall

>>Click on our Facebook Events page to let us know you’re coming!<<

Approved “Gigafy Phelan” Grant Will Provide Fiber-Based Gigabit Internet to over 7,600 Households

San Francisco, CA – July 28, 2017:  On Thursday July 13th, The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) passed the Gigafy Phelan Project and granted Race Communications approximately $27.6 million from the California Advanced Service Fund (CASF) to bring fiber-based gigabit internet to the Phelan, Pinon Hills and Oak Hills areas of San Bernardino County.  These areas were labeled “high priority” by the CASF in 2014 due to not meeting the minimum requirements of upload and download internet speeds and the impact the lack of connectivity was having on the community.

Race Communications and several members of the community played a big role in gaining the approval of this project as competitors worked to block the grant. Providing services to a new area requires Race Communications to  a build new network, which can be an extensive process. Therefore, members of the community are invited to attend a Town Hall Information Session on Sunday August 27th at Pinon Mesa Middle School from 2-4pm. Details on the next steps after approval will be provided and residents are encouraged to attend and ask any questions they may have about the project.

Raul Alcaraz, CEO of Race Communications notes that: “This project has been in the works for a long time and we are very proud that the CPUC saw the need for better connectivity in the area. Our company looks forward to moving ahead with the project and proving to everyone why fiber-based internet is the way of the future. We look forward to providing more information on the project as well as our construction process during the August 27th town hall meeting.”

Location:

Pinon Mesa Middle School – Womack Auditorium

9298 Sheep Creek Rd

Phelan, CA 92371

Time: 2 – 4pm