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On March 13, 2014, the Commission held its regularly-scheduled agenda meeting.  There were only a few telecommunications items addressed at this meeting, and the Commission issued another hold on the draft resolution that would grant CASF funding to Ponderosa for its Cressman project in order to review an alternate.  On the consent agenda, the Commission also set the annual user fee for DIVCA franchise holders in order to generate $950,000 for the fiscal year 2013-2014 budget.  These and other items of interest on the Commission’s agenda are discussed in further detail below.
 
HELD ITEMS
 
Ponderosa’s Cressman CASF Project (Items 4 and 4a, held until 4/10) – This Draft Resolution would grant $1,027,380 in CASF funding to Ponderosa Telephone Company (“Ponderosa”) for its Cressman Unserved and Underserved Broadband Project (“Cressman Project”).  This amount represents 60% of the total project costs, and would supplement Ponderosa’s funding of $684,920.  The project would bring fixed broadband services to the underserved Cressman area of Fresno County.  The Cressman Project would reach an estimated 70 households, of which 59 are currently designated as unserved and 11 are currently designated as underserved.  The project would result in minimum advertised speeds of 6 Mbps/1.5 Mbps.  However, most of the households would likely receive service at 12 Mbps/1.5 Mbps, and approximately 21 households will have access to service at 24 Mbps/2 Mbps thorough VDSL2 technology.

The Cressman Project would upgrade an existing system and install new systems and infrastructure to provide high speed Internet service over a 3.56 square mile area.  Ponderosa would expand its existing network by extending fiber optic backhaul facilities and connecting to multiple Broadband Loop Carrier systems (“BLC”).  The fiber would extend from an upgraded BLC site at Sierra Cedars to two new BLC sites at Lower Cressman and Rush Creek.  The installations would also utilize Ponderosa’s existing copper distribution plants in a fiber-to-the-node configuration and deploy VDSL2 and ADSL2+ technologies to connect end users.

The Draft Resolution finds that the project would have positive safety impacts by providing telephone and broadband access for emergency services in a remote area threatened by fire and harsh weather conditions.  In addition, the Draft Resolution would conclude that connecting the Cressman community’s access to anchor institutions surrounding the Cressman Project area would also be beneficial.

An Alternate was issued by Commissioner Florio, which only approves funding for the fiber optic extension to a portion of Ponderosa’s CASF project proposal.  Specifically, the Alternate would approve funding in the amount of $654,354 for the Lower Cressman segment. 

A copy of the Draft Resolution underlying this item is available at the following link:  

A copy of the Alternate Draft Resolution is available at the following link

CASF Funding Approved for Two Surfnet Projects (Items 16 and 18, held until 3/27) –  These items address California Advanced Services Fund (“CASF”) funding requests for two Surfnet Communications, Inc. (“Surfnet”) projects, the Monterey Dunes Last Mile Underserved Broadband Project (“Monterey Dunes Project”) and the Paradise Road Last Mile Underserved Broadband Project (“Paradise Road Project”).  These Resolutions would approve $105,437 for the Monterey Dunes Project ($79,078 in grant funding and $26,359 in loan funding) and $237,272 for the Paradise Road Project ($177,954 in grant funding and $59,318 in loan funding).  
 
The Monterey Dunes Project is a last mile project that will connect existing copper wire infrastructure and upgrade broadband facilities in the project area.  It is estimated that the project will reach 120 households.  The project will extend high-speed broadband service to 0.58 square miles in the Monterey Dunes area by deploying high speed fiber to the home.  It is expected that the deployment will result in broadband service that is capable of reaching speeds of 100 Mbps up and 100 Mbps down using HPNA 3.0 technologies or ADSL 2. 
 
The Paradise Road Project will extend high-speed broadband service to 3.30 square miles in the Paradise Road area, located in Northern Monterey County.  When the project is completed, it is estimated that it will reach 278 underserved households, including one anchor institution.  This project will also deploy high speed fiber to the home that is capable of reaching symmetrical speeds of 100 Mbps up and 100 Mbps down. 
 
Both projects would be dependent on the completion of the Sunesys middle mile project, which would provide backhaul facilities and enable last mile connections in the areas.  Funding for the Sunesys project will be addressed at the Commission’s April 10, 2014 agenda meeting.  The Draft Resolutions explain that both projects are financially and technically infeasible without completion of the Sunesys project.  Given that the projects are dependent on Sunesys’s projects, Surfnet would be ordered to discuss interim plans and solutions for the Monterey Dunes Project with CASF staff should Sunesys not complete its project in time.  Surfnet would be further ordered to hold off on construction for the Paradise Road Project until the Sunesys project is complete. 
 
A copy of the Draft Resolution underlying Monterey Dunes Project is available at the following link:

A copy of the Draft Resolution underlying Paradise Road Project is available at the following link:

CONSENT AGENDA
 
Annual User Fee Set for DIVCA Franchise Holders (Item 14, approved on consent) – This Resolution sets the annual DIVCA user fee to be paid by each video franchise holder for the fiscal year (“FY”) 2013-2014 .  The annual fees will generate $950,000 for the FY 2013-2014 DIVCA-related budget.  The Commission began accepting video franchising applications in 2007, and by the end of 2013 the Commission had issued 48 video franchises and 128 amendments. 
 
Since the annual fee of any individual video franchise holder is based on each holder’s gross video revenue, the annual fee cannot be disclosed without revealing this information, which is competitively-sensitive and not subject to public disclosure.  Therefore, a confidential fee statement will be issued to each franchise holder following the adoption of this Resolution.  Video franchise holders with franchises issued on or before June 30, 2014 will be required to pay the annual fee before April 30, 2014.  Holders of franchises granted after this Resolution is approved shall pay the fee amount within the 60 days of their franchise or by June 30, 2014, whichever is earlier.     
 
A copy of the Draft Resolution underlying this item is available at the following link

Consumer Complaint Against Consumer Cellular, Incorporated Dismissed (Item 31. approved on consent) – This Decision dismisses a customer complaint seeking compensation for overdraft and non-sufficient fees incurred after Consumer Cellular, Incorporated (“Consumer Cellular”) deposited the customer’s check.  The complaint alleged that the customer sent Consumer Cellular a check to pay a monthly cellular bill, and Consumer Cellular was unable to confirm receipt of the check.  As result, customer sent a second check for the same amount.  Both checks were eventually received by Consumer Cellular and posted to the customer’s account, except one check did not clear because of insufficient funds in the customer’s account with Wells Fargo Bank.  The Decision concludes that the overdraft and non-sufficient fund fees were incurred solely due to Wells Fargo Bank’s policies and requirements, and that Consumer Cellular is neither obligated nor capable of ensuring that customers have sufficient funds when making payment by check.  Therefore, the Decision dismisses the complaint. 
 
A copy of the Proposed Decision underlying this item is available at the following link
 
COMMISSIONER REPORTS
 
Commissioner Sandoval noted her attendance at a recent CASF workshop regarding funding for broadband infrastructure development in public-funded housing communities.  She explained that the workshop was well attended by California broadband consortia groups, and that she had asked these groups to apply their knowledge of regions and locations in order to best allocate dollars and efforts. She also announced that Telscape was recently approved by the Commission to begin offering wireless LifeLine. 

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