The deployment of new telecommunications technology in rural and remote areas of California and the equitable regulatory treatment of all forms of telecommunications services is a high priority for RCRC. In order to be economically competitive, ensure a first-class public safety network, and provide residents with the benefits of online connectivity, the deployment and expansion of basic telecommunications systems and broadband access must be prioritized to unserved and underserved communities throughout the state. It is estimated that nearly 1.4 million California residents do not have broadband access. California has several tools available to obtain broadband services, with one of the primary sources the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF). The CASF is administered by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and helps fund projects that will provide broadband services to areas currently without access, and/or areas with very limited service. Funding for the CASF stems from a modest surcharge on revenues collected by telecommunications carriers from end-users for intrastate telecommunications services. The CPUC relies on guidelines and statutes in awarding grants. RCRC continues to monitor the CASF funding levels and CPUC’s application process, especially for applications that originate in or impact RCRC member counties.
RCRC supports efforts to develop innovative financing tools such as public-private partnerships, and other financial vehicles and resources that ensure high-speed broadband infrastructure is deployed throughout all unserved and underserved communities in California.
In addition, California offers the High-Cost A and High-Cost B Funds. The High-Cost A Fund was established to provide support to small, private independent telephone corporations funding to ensure affordable, reliable, high-quality communications services in rural areas of the state. The High-Cost B Fund was established to provide support to telecommunications carriers of last resort (primarily large legacy phone carriers) for providing basic local telephone service to residential customers in high-cost areas. These funds are both capitalized by an end-user surcharge collected by carriers. RCRC supports continuation of these Funds to ensure that rural communities continue to have access to basic phone services. RCRC also supports efforts to allow High-Cost A funds to be utilized for the deployment of broadband in territories served by small carriers.
Staff: Paul A. Smith and Tracy Rhine