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!

 

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. 

 

General Use Plans Approved

The following communities had their General Plans approved by the Mono County Planning Commission during the June 2017 meeting:

-Swall Meadows – Paradise

-Walker

-Mono City

-Aspen Springs

-Benton

-Bridgeport

– Sunny Slopes

So what does that mean? Residents in the area will now see our Race crews around town stranding fiber in the area, working hard to bring better connectivity to rural communities in Mono County. At this time, you will not be able to place an order, but we are getting closer and closer!

 

 

The replies are in – see what we had to say to Frontier re: Resolution T-17525.

We want to “Gigafy Phelan” – and we are doing what we can to ensure that the CPUC will vote “yes” on resolution T-17525 on Thursday 6/29/2017. This morning, our company submitted it’s responses to Frontier and the Office of Ratepayer Advocates explaining why we believe that the areas of Phelan, Pinon Hills and Oak Hills deserve better broadband and should not have to settle for false promises from a company that has failed to deliver over and over again. 

Please find in PDF format, Links to Reply Comments to Frontier, ORA and the Community Letters of Support.
 
Link to Reply Comments to Frontier Communications 
Link to Reply Comments to Office of Ratepayer Advocates “ORA”
Link to Community Letters of Support for T-17525 – Gigafy Phelan
 
You will find letters of support from community leaders and anchor tenants such as:
 
Congressman Paul Cook
CA State Senator Wilk
Assemblymember Lackey
Assemblymember Obernolte
First District Supervisor Lovingood
CalFire
Snowline Joint Unified School
CSU – San Bernardino
Phelan-Pinon Hills CSD
Phelan Chamber of Commerce
Victor Valley College
 
and many more.

With the amount of support letters we received (and submitted), our final response to Frontier ended up being over 90 pages – THANK YOU Phelan, Pinon Hills and Oak Hills! We couldn’t have done it without you. 

Face to Face with Race: Kyle Wing

Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane! No! That’s just Race’s jack-of-all-trades, Kyle Wing! As an Orange County native and a loyal Race employee, Kyle wears many, many hats. If he’s not working our latest designs for a new community, you may be able to catch him helping our customers with their installs. Read below to find out more information about Kyle.

How long have you been at Race?

I’ve been with Race for about three and half years.  I was hired on November 4th, 2013.

What’s your official title?

I am the Outside Plant Project Manager.

What do you exactly do at Race?

I’m probably one of the guys that wear one of the most amounts of hats here in the company along with the partners. I know I have that title, but I do just about everything. I go out in the field, I help the guys in the field if needed. I splice, I do design work for our fiber network and engineering. I also help with our wireless networks. I’ll go out, do site surveys with all the customers to determine if it’s an aerial or underground install. I go over any underground construction that’s needed. I go out and do site walks for any new construction that may be coming up. Sometimes, I even help with trouble tickets and training.

How did you get started with Race?

I first met Raul and the other partners up in Bishop, CA. I was working for my old cable company and I was in Bishop, at a meeting for the Digital 395 project [a project that aims to build 583-miles of fiber optic network between Barstow, CA and Carson City, NV]. I was up there doing a presentation.

While I was in that meeting, a colleague introduced me to the Race partners. We started talking, and they were really interested in me because of my knowledge. I had a couple talks with them. Had an online interview with them and things lined up and I’m here now!

What’s your typical day like?

I don’t have a typical day [laughs]. My Mondays and Tuesdays are typically full of site surveys, where I go out and identify if a property is aerial or underground. Then I meet with the customers to go over all the underground construction if needed. My Wednesdays and Thursdays and Fridays are basically my floating days. So whatever comes up, if there’s a floating ticket, if there’s office work that needs to get done. I’ll do it on those days.

What do you like most about Race?

For me, it’s nice, because every day is definitely different. I don’t get stuck in a rut having to do the same thing over and over again and it’s great working for a company that is using cutting edge technology. It’s not like we’re like the old companies out there using copper-based technologies and having customers complaining to get off our system. It’s nice working with a new, growing company.

What’s the most rewarding factor about your job?

For me, the most rewarding thing is being able to work head-on with Race and help design, plan and build these projects that are bettering the Internet to rural communities.

Bonus Question: What do you do in your spare time?

I like being outdoors, going fishing, hiking, and dirt bike riding.