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Frequently Asked Questions about the application process and administration of the CASF

(updated 12/19/12)

 

Prospective Applicants

Prospective applicants who have questions about the application process or the program administration after their selection can send an email to: CASF_Application_Questions@cpuc.ca.gov

Challenged CASF Applications

All FAQs

PROSPECTIVE APPLICANTS:

Q:  How do I file an application and the required documents online?  Is there a required file type?

A:  An instructional video will be available soon. Written instructions are available at: http://delaps1.cpuc.ca.gov/OracleUserDocs/CASF_online_user_documentation.pdf

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Q:  Where do I mail a hardcopy of my application, what it is the postmark date, format required, and how many copies are required?

A:  Submit completed applications online at http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/puc/ with hard copies mailed separately (postmarked by the date of the respective deadline or earlier) to:

Communications Division

Attn: California Advanced Services Fund

California Public Utilities Commission

505 Van Ness Ave.

San Francisco, CA 94102

AND to:

Division of Ratepayer Advocates

Re: California Advanced Services Fund

California Public Utilities Commission

505 Van Ness Ave.

San Francisco, CA 94102

The mailed document should follow the format of the checklist and conform to Rule 1.5 of the Commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedure. Documents tendered for filing must be typewritten, printed, or reproduced on paper 8 ½ inches wide and 11 inches long.  Any larger attachments must be legibly reduced or folded to the same size.  The type must be no smaller than 10 points.  The impression must use 1 ½ -line or double spacing, except that footnotes and quotations in excess of a few lines may be single-spaced.  Both sides of the paper may be used.  A document of more than one page must be bound on the left side or upper left-hand corner.  If a transmittal letter is submitted (see Rule 1.13(a)), it must not be bound to the tendered document.  All copies must be clear and permanently legible.

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Q:  When does the hard copy of the application need to be received or postmarked?

A:  The online application must be submitted and accepted by the deadline, and a hard copy may be postmarked by that date or earlier.

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Q:  Who is eligible to receive CASF grants?

A:   Decision 12-02-015 limits awarding CASF grants to "telephone corporations" licensed by the CPUC, as defined by section 234 of the California Public Utilities Code.  "Telephone corporations" are entities with a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) or wireless carriers, identified in federal and state law as Commercial Mobile Radio Services (CMRS), who are registered with the CPUC and the FCC (e.g., they possess a Wireless Identification Registration).

An entity with a pending CPCN application to provide service as a telephone corporation may submit a request for CASF funding subject to approval of its CPCN. An applicant may also partner with a CPCN or WIR holder, provided the certificated company is the organization’s fiscal agent.

CASF funding is also available to a consortium as long as the lead financial agent for the consortium is an entity holding a CPCN or a wireless carrier registered with the CPUC.

The Commission will consider applications from satellite service providers provided that the applicants are CPCN or WIR holders, are able to prove functionality, and are able to meet the speeds required.

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Q:  Must separate applications be submitted for different but contiguous CBG?

A:  Although in some cases it may be better for an applicant to submit separate applications, they are not required to do so. Decision 12-02-015 defines a “broadband project” as a “deployment encompassing a single contiguous group of Census Block Groups (CBGs).” Any and all calculations for unserved versus underserved / served areas within the proposed contiguous service area must be applied and clearly described.

Q. What is the definition of an Unserved Area?

A. An unserved area is an area that is not served by any form of wireline or wireless facilities-based broadband, such that Internet connectivity is available only through dial-up service.

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Q. What is the definition of Broadband?

A. Broadband, as defined by the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA), is a “two-way data transmission to and from the Internet with advertised speeds of at least 768 kilobits per second (kbps) downstream and at least 200 kbps upstream to end users.”

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Q.  For hybrid broadband projects (projects covering unserved and underserved areas not partially funded by CASF), does my application need to break down key broadband metrics such as households, project size (in square miles) and project costs by unserved and underserved areas?

A.  Yes, hybrid broadband projects should clearly show the number of households and the project size (in square miles) for each area type: Unserved and underserved.   In addition, the applicant should clearly state the CASF funding requested by each area type (unserved and underserved) by pro-rating costs when projects include facilities in unserved and underserved areas (including a detail explanation of the allocation of these costs).  CASF funding percentages for unserved (up to 70% of the project’s total cost) and underserved areas (up to 60% of the project’s total costs) differs so it is important for the applicant to be able to explain the costs of the project by service area type.

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Q:  How does an applicant determine and document whether an area is unserved or underserved?

A:  To document a project, applicants will reference CBGs (census block groups), census data, and ZIP codes (for areas that intersect) in their applications.  If more recent information is available from county/city sites reflecting new housing developments or new community demands such as hospitals, schools, libraries, among others, the applicant may use these data sources/information to help justify their proposed project.

When an area proposed is within an already served area, or crosses areas already served (as reflected in existing maps such as that in the California Broadband Availability Map, the applicant must prove that the area being proposed is indeed still unserved by offering new information sources as cited in the preceding paragraph.  With respect to cost allocation, applicants will pro-rate costs when projects include facilities in unserved and underserved – and even “served” – areas.  Appendix 1 Page 3 of Decision 12-02-015 provides a specific example of a project that includes both an unserved and underserved area and discusses how to calculate the Total Project Costs.

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Q:  How will challenges to unserved vs. underserved/served areas be reviewed?

A:  Any party that challenges a CBG as being served or (for applications for unserved areas) underserved will have to provide documentation that the CBG is in fact already served (e.g., a copy of a customer bill).  Commission Staff will then verify this information, along with the applicant’s documentation supporting its assertion that the CBG is unserved.  Once Staff makes a final determination, we will notify the applicant of our determination.

If the challenged CBG is determined to be “served” or (for applications for unserved areas) “underserved,” the application will be rejected.  The applicant, however, has the option to submit a modified application in subsequent rounds of proposals, either for the same area (provided that the parts of the CBG that are not “unserved” are omitted from project cost and budget considerations) or for only those parts of the CBG that are unserved.

Any individual challenging the an unserved or underserved determination must include the following information in an email to CASF_Application_Questions@cpuc.ca.gov with the subject line heading of: "Challenge Related to a Potential CASF Application.”

Challenger information –

Name

Contact information (including e-mail)

Type of entity (Consumer, Company, Non-profit, etc.)

Type of challenge:

1.     Challenge by a service provider that an area designated as “un-served” is in fact served by them and is either under-served or served.

a.     Submit broadband data as outlned at:

                                  i.    http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/Telco/Information+for+providing+service/Broadband+Mapping/

                                 ii.    (This link provides details on the data needed such as shapefiles and workbook templates)

b.    Number of that provider’s subscribers by census block and speed tier

c.     Speed Tests with a description on how the speed tests were conducted and what tools where used.  Address of the location of where the speed test was performed should be included.

d.    Always include any additional items that may support your challenge   

2.     Challenge by an individual / organization / service provider that an area designated as “served” or “under-served” is in fact un-served.

a.     Shapefiles (if available; individual consumers may not be able to provide shapefiles)

b.    List of Census Blocks

c.     List of providers currently in the area (if any) that claim to served the census block/s

d.    Speed tiers being offered by the providers for that/those particular census block/s

e.     Proof of denial of service from providers in the area

f.     Emails or letters of the denial of service

g.    Print screen of an online confirmation from a provider’s website that no service is being offered in that area (some providers allow consumers to be able to enter their location and show if service is available

h.     If the challenge is specific to Mobile Broadband Availability in the area:

                                  i.    Run the CPUC mobile testing application and upload those results showing no service in that/those particular census block/s.

                                 ii.    Contact Rob Osborn (ro1@cpuc.ca.gov) to obtain the mobile app.

i.      Always include any additional items that may support your challenge or that the area is not served 

3.     Challenge by an individual / organization / service provider on middle- mile projects.

a.     Description of why the challenger asserts that there is enough backbone/backhaul infrastructure in the area that the need for a new middle mile project is unnecessary.

b.    If there is existing middle mile infrastructure in the area, include details of the infrastructure in place such as:

                                  i.    Provider

                                 ii.    Technology type

                                iii.    Location (list of census blocks)

                                iv.    Shape files of the existing middle mile infrastructure

                                 v.    Number of subscribers to the middle mile infrastructure

                                vi.    Speed tiers being offered

                               vii.    Speed Tests with a description on how the speed tests were conducted and what tools where used.  Address of the location of where the speed test was performed should be included.

                              viii.    Current facilities, availability, and capacity (i.e. Does the existing infrastructure have enough available capacity to support new inter-connections/transport/backhaul to last mile providers who connect end users, new connections to anchor institutions, etc.?).  If it is a fiber network, how many total of fiber strand-miles are being use, how many leased, how many dark fiber that can become available to last-mile users, etc.

                                ix.    Always include any additional items that may support your challenge

While staff reviews the challenge, we may require and request additional information.

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Q:  What are the requirements/restrictions for sources of matching funds?

A:  Projects in underserved areas are eligible for grants equaling up to 60% of the total project cost and for a loan equaling up to 20% of the total project cost (with a $500,000 maximum). Projects in unserved areas are eligible for grants equaling up to 70% of the total project cost and for a loan equaling up to 20% of the total project cost (with a $500,000 maximum). Applicants are responsible for securing all funding not provided by the CASF grant.

An applicant is required to post a performance bond if it cannot certify that the percentage of the total project costs it is providing comes from its capital budget and will not be obtained from outside financing. In that case, the grantee must send an executed bond, equal to the total amount payable under the CASF award, to the Executive Director of the CPUC and to the Director of the Communications Division within five business days after the completion of its CEQA review. The performance bond must be callable for failure to complete the CASF funded broadband project. Applicants who will complete the project and front-end all the project costs before requesting reimbursement may request exemption from the performance bond requirement.

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Q:  What are the requirements / restrictions for capital and operating expenses and what should be included in the Total Project Cost?

A:  Capital costs should only reflect costs attributable to the construction of the broadband infrastructure project the applicant proposes to build.  CASF grants will not fund operating or maintenance expenses.

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Q:  What are the PEA requirements?

A:  The PEA (Proponent’s Environmental Assessment) should include all information and studies required under the Commission's Information and Criteria List adopted pursuant to Chapter 1200 of the Statutes of 1977 (Government Code Sections 65940 through 65942), which is published on the Commission's Internet website at: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/energy/electric/Environment/infocrit.htm

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CHALLENGED CASF APPLICATIONS:

Q:  What information is used to update the California Broadband Availability Map?

A:  The updated California Broadband Map reflects data collected from broadband providers. Cal State University, Chico collected availability data from broadband providers in the region, aggregated them, and produced a GIS map layer, which is/was provided to the Commission and used to update the Map.

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Q:  What happens when the proposed Census Block Group(s) (CBGs) in my application is challenged by other service providers or is shown as served in the California Broadband Availability Map?

A:  Communications Division (CD) staff will determine a CBG’s service level based based on the definitions of unserved and underserved areas provided in Decision 12-02-015 and the data used to create the California Broadband Availability Map. However, CD staff acknowledges that the maps may not be 100% accurate. 

Therefore, as part of the review process, CD staff overlays shapefiles submitted by applicants onto the California Broadband Availability Map and challenged areas maps. This is to verify which areas in the CBG are challenged or which areas appear as served.  If the CBGs appear already served, staff will consult with the applicant. To the extent an applicant disagrees, applicants will need to submit additional data to prove that the areas applied for are either unserved or underserved.

CD staff uses this same method of overlaying shapefiles submitted by applicants onto the California Broadband Availability Map and maps submitted by challengers and verification process to determine which areas in a CBG are served, unserved or underserved with all the other CASF applicants. Challengers are responsible for providing verifiable evidence to CD staff that proves the challenger already serves the proposed project area at required speeds. If CD staff cannot verify a challenger’s claim, the challenge will be denied.

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Q:  Are challengers claiming to serve a given area required to provide verification of broadband service?

A:  Entities challenging applications must submit maps of their service area(s) and addresses of households in their service area(s) to enable staff to verify the challengers’ allegation that the area(s) are already served and not underserved or unserved.

 

A challenger must provide documentation that the area or CBG is in fact already served at the speeds it claims to provide customers (e.g., maps or a copy of a customer bill or other verifiable evidence). The challenger also must submit its coverage and service data to the CPUC’s Broadband Mapping team so that the information is included in the California Broadband Availability Map. CD staff will investigate this information provided. CD will inform the applicants of any challenges filed provide the challenger’s name and all non-confidential information submitted. Once CD makes a final determination, it will notify the applicant and challenger of its determination.

If the challenged CBG is determined to be “served” CD staff will reject the application or ask the applicant to modify it application. The applicant has the option to submit a modified application in subsequent rounds, either for the same area (provided that the areas of the CBG that are not “unserved” are omitted from project cost and budget considerations) or for only those parts of the CBG that are unserved. 

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Q:  If challengers are not able to provide verification of the CBGs in question, are their challenges ignored?

A:  No, if a challenger who is asked to provide additional information is not able to do so for various reasons, CD staff will use whatever information it has in its review to determine whether a proposed CBG qualifies as unserved or underserved.

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Last Modified: 2/11/2013


 
 
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