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CPUC holds Public Participation Hearing regarding the transfer of Verizon landline assets to Frontier Communications
July 15, 2015
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently held the first of a series of Public Participation Hearings (PPHs) regarding the sale of Verizon Landline assets in California to Frontier Communications. CPUC Commissioner Catherine Sandoval is personally traveling around the state for these hearings and to hear directly from residents about their concerns. Read about the first of these hearings that was held on July 6th at the Benbow Inn in Humboldt County.
July 15th, 2015
Broadband Alliance of Mendocino County (BAMC) held a meeting with AT&T and various county participants to discuss concerns relating to the fiber outage last year, network redundancy, and the establishment of an improved communication process between the county and AT&T. Read the press release
Over 500 responses in the first 48 hours of the survey have produced the following anecdotes:
- Coast District Hospital experienced major impact to patient care because many on-call personnel could not be reached when needed for urgent procedures. Physicians were unreachable by cell phone or Internet-based messaging.
- 911 network disrupted.
- Health club couldn’t check in members.
- Pharmacy couldn’t verify insurance coverage.
- Grocery stores couldn’t charge cards.
- Fire chief had to drive to find a landline phone to make and take calls.
- Auto mechanic couldn’t do his job because all his repair manuals are on-line.
- Inns unable to access online reservations.
- “It was amazing. My roommates cleaned! Dishes got done! They went outside!”
These are only a few anecdotal stories that emanated from the fiber cut last Sunday; some of minor importance, some had economic impacts while others were serious health and safety problems.
Since last Monday the Broadband Alliance of Mendocino County (BAMC) has been working closely with the Mendocino County Executive Office to create an online survey to collect and assess the widespread damage caused by the accident. The survey went live Wednesday evening.
While feedback has covered the gamut from potentially life-threatening to outrage to thoughtful suggestions to the inconsequential, a common theme is evident – the status quo of telecommunications infrastructure in Mendocino County is unacceptable going forward. Everyone’s lives from school age children through senior retirees have transitioned into a 21st century digital world and completing even the simplest of daily transactions requires Internet connectivity. This includes schoolwork and distance learning, telemedicine, credit card purchases, banking, social security payments, LIFELINE health monitors, EBT payments, job applications, etc.
Regardless of the device one uses, this connectivity depends on “middle mile” fiber to connect to the world. When the Comptche Road fiber was breached service was disrupted because this particular network had no redundant “back-up” line over which the traffic could be re-routed.
The BAMC has been working tirelessly for more than four years to bring proper broadband connectivity to the county – to close the Persistent Digital Divide for the estimated 50 percent of county households that have no or substandard broadband connectivity. It is unfortunate that the out-of-state corporations that control what amounts to a telecommunications duopoly in the county have thwarted our major initiatives.
One such initiative was the Golden Bear Broadband (GBB) project that was designed with a robust and redundant middle-mile fiber network; an essential element of proper network design. What happened to the GBB project? After 13 months awaiting approval at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the GBB board withdrew the application because of the fierce opposition by the aforementioned duopoly and five other carriers.
While these firms have no plans to build out their own networks, they have inexplicably blocked the Alliance’s efforts to get the job done. The CPUC recently stated that “…Mendocino County has the largest population of unserved residents in California.” While this is an unambiguous statement of the need, the State’s telecommunications regulator was also unwilling to approve the GBB project.
Since the big guys won’t do the job, we need a homegrown solution. Let’s “go local.” The Alliance has plans along these line to pursue other funding sources which will need the public’s full support. Stay tuned.
The Broadband Alliance of Mendocino County is a partnership of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, County Executive Office, Community Foundation of Mendocino County, Economic Development and Financing Corporation, and the Mendocino Coast Broadband Alliance.
The Broadband Alliance of Mendocino County is a member of the four-county CPUC-funded North Bay North Coast Broadband Consortium.
Jim Moorehead, Alliance Chair, Chairman@MendocinoBroadband.org
Dear Supporters of closing the Persistent Digital Divide for all of rural northern California,
The status quo is not going to bring high-speed Internet broadband to the rural areas of our state, currently being damaged economically every single day by sub-standard broadband. To change the status quo, we need to make our voices heard. We are inviting you to join us at the upcoming meeting of the California Broadband Council (CBC):
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Legislative Office Building (LOB)
1020 N Street, Rm. 100
(map this location)
The CBC was established by legislation in 2010 (Senate Bill 1462-Padilla) to marshal the state’s resources to further the objectives of increasing broadband network deployment, and eliminate the Digital Divide by expanding broadband accessibility, literacy, adoption, and usage. We need to let them know that the Digital Divide grows wider and deeper in our rural communities, and hold them accountable to this important responsibility on behalf of all our residents.
The nine-member CBC is composed of leaders in their fields: Michael Peevey, President of the CPUC and Chair of the CBC; Senator Alex Padilla, vice-Chair and who helped establish the CBC; Assembly member Steven Bradford, Carlos Ramos, Director of the CA Dept of Technology; Mark Ghilarducci, Secretary of the CA Emergency Management Agency; Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Schools; Fred Klass, Director of General Services; Brian Kelly, Secretary of the California Transportation Agency; and Sunne McPeak, President of the California Emerging Technology Fund. More information about the council can be found at broadbandcouncil.ca.gov/home.aspx.
We would like as many people as possible to attend this meeting, so please mark your calendar and see if there is any possible way for you to attend. Their meetings include a 20-minute public comment period, and even if there is not time for everyone to speak due to our large turnout, your presence at the meeting will send an important message.
Please let us know if you are planning to attend, and if you would like to carpool. We plan to meet as a group before the meeting to share media materials, so please stay in touch and share this information with as many people as possible.
Jim Moorehead, Executive Committee Chair
Broadband Alliance of Mendocino County
Mike Nicholls, Co-Chair
Access Sonoma Broadband
Frustrated with your Internet access? Do something about it!
Expanding broadband services in rural areas is difficult for many reasons, including the methodology used to collect data for the State Broadband Coverage Map. This map is created by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) from “advertised” coverage and speed data provided by the Internet providers, such as AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast.
In a huge breakthrough for consumers, the CPUC is now accepting input directly from residents to validate/invalidate these advertised coverage/speeds. This improved accuracy will help the CPUC to guide effectively broadband subsidies to areas of greatest need when grants are reviewed for broadband expansion.
Take the CPUC broadband survey
The CPUC has three ways for you to provide this important feedback data:
Mail-in paper survey: Complete, sign, and mail the CPUC Mapping Survey (pdf) to the address at the bottom of the survey.
Online: Visit the online map at www.broadbandmap.ca.gov. You can complete this survey from any place with Internet service if you don’t have service at your house.
- Click “Interactive Map”
- Select the House icon, third down from the top on the right side of the map. This is the “Address Lookup” tool.
- Enter your physical address and select “Locate”
- A box with service providers in your area appears, and directly above it you will see the link “Send Feedback.” Click this link and the survey will appear on your screen. Answer the questions and submit the survey.
CalSPEED Android mobile app: If you have an LTE-capable Android smartphone or tablet, you can download the CalSPEED mobile testing app from the Google Play app store and test the quality of the service available at your location. Tests done in areas with no service will be reported to the CPUC automatically the next time you enter an area with service. Testing must be done outdoors while stationary (i.e. not in a car). Feel free to use the app frequently, at a variety of locations.
The information you provide will be incorporated into the consumer feedback layer, and to validate or invalidate provider’s service availability information.
Thanks for taking action!
BAMC comments to FCC – Broadband Progress – September 2011
The Broadband Alliance of Mendocino County was the only community-based respondent out of a total of 24 from all over the nation to inform the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that access to broadband capability is, in fact, NOT being adequately deployed to citizens and businesses in Mendocino County, thereby contradicting assertions by major telecommunications providers that it is adequate. The National Broadband Plan refers to the “broadband ecosystem” as the way information is transmitted or delivered quickly (minimum download speeds of 4 Mbps relative to less than 1 Mbps from dial up or regular DSL) from place to place, and includes ways in which it is used (applications or content like email, search, news, maps, purchasing) as well as the networks used (cable, fixed fiber, wireless, cellular, DSL, satellite) and the devices available for connection to the networks.
On September 6, 2011, the Alliance submitted its report to the FCC, which is conducting an inquiry to “determine whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion”. Download the Alliance’s full report to the FCC.
The Alliance reported that the FCC’s deployment data on its map is not correct. It currently indicates that 84% of homes in Mendocino County have access to high performance broadband speed Internet service, while the Alliance’s own research indicates that approximately 50% of residences do NOT have access to broadband capability. The Alliance stated that the reason for this discrepancy appears to be that the FCC relies heavily on information provided by telecommunications providers, who seem to have a vested interest in overstating deployment information in hard-to-serve areas. The Alliance told the FCC that the agency needs credible deployment data that is obtained independently of broadband carriers, performing in-the-field validation of that information.
The FCC also needs to better assess the needs of unserved and underserved “really rural” communities and provide more financial assistance so they can develop solutions that actually achieve broadband deployment. Mendocino’s efforts are 100% volunteer at this time with inadequate funding to hire necessary professionals and do the work.
The Alliance is currently asking all Mendocino County residents and businesses, whether served or unserved with high speed Internet, to respond to a Survey to help prove its statistics as a way to correct the FCC maps. It will take the involvement of all to get coverage necessary for personal convenience as more and more is being required to be done only online, computer updates get bigger, and for economic renewal.