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. 

 

Face to Face with Race: Eva Borras

When you get your welcome call from Race Communications, have you ever wondered who’s on the other end? Most likely, you’re speaking with San Francisco native Eva Borras, who loves giving customers the best service. Read more to find out how she spends her days at Race.

How long have you been at Race?

I have been at Race for a year and one month.

What’s your official title?

I believe it’s called Customer Service Representative [laughs].

What exactly do you do at Race?

I take inbound calls that are non-technical. I’m really not technically inclined…so I  leave that to the guys [laughs]. I can schedule installations, I do all of the Welcome Calls for the new orders that come into the cue.

I do a lot of spreadsheet maintenance to keep the team up to date. I do order completions as it gets closer to the end of the month. Sometimes, things get overlooked and I go through the orders and provisions in the install cue, to make sure any order that has been completed, really has been completed.

I also do line number porting [which is how customers are able to keep their home number when they switch from providers].

And then, anything else that may come up, but roughly that’s everything I do off the top of my head.

What’s your typical day like?

My typical day is usually very busy. I mean I’m always busy and if I’m not busy, I’m looking into the system to find things that may need to be corrected or updated. All of us are moving so quickly, and there are things that go by the waist side, so I’m always on the search to correct things.

Whether I’m busy with outside info, calls and all that, I am finding things to do to make sure that everything we’re doing is top notch.

What three words can you use to describe Race?

That is a hard one [laughs]. I have more words than three. I knocked it down to: We are definitely awesome, progressive. We are competitive, reliable and friendly. That’s what I think of Race.

Bonus Question: What’s your favorite movie?

You’re going to laugh. It’s an older movie. It’s the 3-D animation, it’s called Up. If you haven’t seen it, go see it. I cried during the whole movie. It was wonderful. It brings out the sentimentality of life and what we’re here for.

RACE is coming!

The weather couldn’t have been more perfect on Saturday when RACE held their informational meeting for Bear Valley Springs residents. Perhaps that is what lead to such a great turn out, or perhaps it was due to the fact that the community is in such need for reliable broadband services and RACE seems to be the solution residents have been waiting for. Lead by CEO, Raul Alcaraz, the meeting provided a lot of helpful information for the community.

Alcaraz explained in detail why certain areas are not included in the maps found online and how the project areas are determined using standards set by the CPUC. The area removed from the initial application includes the top of Bear Valley (Deertrail, Paramount, Starland). However, RACE hopes to provide service to this area in the future as a 100% self-funded project. Alcaraz also dispelled rumors that the funds granted to the company were running out and that the company WILL be providing service to the areas shown in the service maps found on the company website.

RACE has awarded contracts to local contractors to begin the buildout of the project starting by their POP (point-of-presence) right outside Stallion Springs on Banducci. Construction crews will begin working down Banducci up Pellisier and along 202 making their way to the gate of Bear Valley Springs. Residents in the area can expect to see crews working within the next 2-3 weeks, and RACE hopes to begin installs in the area in late fall of 2016.

Attendees pointed out the missed deadlines set forth by RACE previously, and RACE understands the frustrations. RACE is building brand-new infrastructure and as is to be expected with construction, delays can and have occurred, especially in regards to permits and unexpected issues such as replacement of utility poles. Based on previous experience with other communities such as Boron and Stallion Springs, the expected timeline to have all zones up and running in Bear Valley Springs is 8-16 months.

Bear Valley Springs has been divided into 12 zones (not including Cummings Valley and Fairview Ranches). To see the zones and their designated borders, please visit our zoomable map or see below:

BearValley

For more information on construction questions regarding homes, visit our FAQ page at www.race.com/faq.

Race lowers pricing on “Gigafy Me” plan.

In an effort to help the United States catch up to the world’s internet bandwidth leaders, Race has announced a major restructuring of it’s internet plans.

Race is dropping all but two internet plans, and has dropped the price on the company’s symmetrical 1000 Mbps plan to $60-a-month, bringing it to a lower price point than the two slower plans — an $85/month 250 Mbps and a $65/month 100 Mbps — the company has now dropped.

Race will continue to offer a budget friendly plan called Basic Broadband+ that meets (and exceeds) the new minimum for broadband as ruled by the FCC, with 25mbps download and upload speeds. BB+ is $25/month.

Bandwidth is not the commodity that many cable and DSL providers make it out to be. Companies sell bandwidth over their aging infrastructure as though it is a limited, non-renewable resource, and it is keeping Americans behind in terms of innovative technology, while making large profits for internet and cable providers. 

Improving U.S. broadband speed and penetration is important to Race, and the company hopes to see positive changes and economic growth in it’s service areas by establishing a new service model that allows for true high-speed internet to be the norm, making it easier to use broadband to help solve many of today’s big challenges, such as developing higher quality education and healthcare.