CPUC Approves Advanced Services and Technical Assistance Funding for Regional and Local Planning and Coordination
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), in its ongoing commitment to help the state bridge the digital divide, today announced it has awarded more than $10.3 million in the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortia Account to fund 15 consortia projects, and $3.2 million Local Agency Technical Assistance (LATA) grants to four local agencies, a school district, and a Tribe.
The Consortia Account provides funds to support regional groups of broadband advocates that facilitate the deployment of broadband services by assisting CASF infrastructure grant applicants in the project development or grant application process or assisting broadband deployment projects related to programs created under Senate Bill (SB) 156 and Assembly Bill (AB) 164. Eligible applicants for Consortia Account grants include representatives in relevant fields and organizations including, but not limited to, local and regional government, public safety, elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, health care, libraries, community-based organizations, tourism, parks and recreation, agriculture, business, workforce development, and air pollution control or air quality management districts.
In July 2022, the CPUC received 15 Consortia Account applications requesting a total of more than $10.3 million in support. A list of submitted applications is available here. Examples of activities the CPUC awarded today include funding for consortia to collaborate with stakeholders regarding Federal Funding Account priority areas and cost-effective strategies for broadband deployment, identify potential CASF infrastructure projects or potential broadband deployment projects related to new programs created under SB 156 and AB 164, assist potential applicants in the project development or grant application process, support project permitting activities, conduct an inventory of public assets and aggregate demand, and assist the CPUC in publicizing requests for wireline testing volunteers, as needed. The grant awards will fund 15 Consortia groups representing 51 counties in California.
The CASF provides financial support in the form of competitive grants for broadband infrastructure and broadband adoption projects. In addition, it provides support to rural and urban regional broadband consortia to fund activities that are intended to facilitate broadband deployment. Current CASF program rules also provide grants to build broadband networks that offer free broadband service for publicly supported housing developments and farmworker housing and provides Tribes technical assistance to pursue improved communications for tribal communities.
The LATA grant program supports Tribes and local governments in their pre-construction efforts to expand broadband service to unserved Californians. The LATA program will distribute at least $50 million in grants, including a $5 million set-aside for Tribes. It’s a key step in California’s $6 billion Broadband for All investment.
Each LATA grant will be used to reimburse local governments or Tribes for the costs of eligible pre-construction work that facilitates the construction of broadband network projects for unserved areas. Networks supported by the technical assistance grants must ultimately reliably meet or exceed a 100 Mbps speed requirement, upload and download. These technical assistance projects will be completed within a 24-month timeline.
The $3.2 million in LATA grants awarded are to:
These grants follow a third round of awards for 16 grants for $5.75 million in December 2022. The application window remains open for new applications.
“The CPUC’s actions today represent another step forward toward achieving the state’s Broadband For All objectives,” said CPUC President Alice Reynolds. “In particular, support for the regional broadband consortia provides a critical link between the state and local communities. These local engagement efforts are invaluable, and I look forward to continued partnership with the consortia.”
“I am very pleased to see that the CPUC, through these grants, can support local entities that strive to bring the development of broadband projects to rural communities, including consortiums, school districts, and Tribes,” said Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma.
“The awards made today will further local and regional planning and coordination for broadband deployment through support of our regional consortia and through direct technical assistance provided to cities, counties, and Tribes,” said Commissioner Darcie L. Houck. “We are excited to continue to empower stakeholders seeking to develop broadband solutions in their own communities.”
More information on the CASF program is available at www.cpuc.ca.gov/casf.
More information on the CPUC’s other efforts in broadband implementation for California is available at www.cpuc.ca.gov/industries-and-topics/internet-and-phone/broadband-implementation-for-california.
More information and summaries of the LATA grants: www.cpuc.ca.gov/industries-and-topics/internet-and-phone/broadband-implementation-for-california/local-agency-technical-assistance.
The CPUC regulates services and utilities, protects consumers, safeguards the environment, and assures Californians’ access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services. For more information on the CPUC, please visit www.cpuc.ca.gov.