The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), in its commitment to ubiquitous broadband service, today opened access to broadband grants available through the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to public housing communities.
The CASF expands and promotes the deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas by providing grants to fund capital costs of eligible broadband infrastructure projects. The program includes three accounts: 1) Broadband Infrastructure Grant Account, 2) Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortia Grant Account, and 3) Broadband Infrastructure Revolving Loan Account. Today’s decision adds a fourth account called the Broadband Public Housing Account and is dedicated to increasing broadband access and adoption in publicly supported communities.
“Our actions today implement Assemblymember Bradford’s Assembly Bill 1299 to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure and adoption programs in eligible publicly supported housing communities,” said CPUC President Michael R. Peevey, the Commissioner assigned to the proceeding. “Prior to passing AB 1299, the Legislature held several hearings on broadband availability for California residents in publicly supported communities who testified that a majority of their properties lack reliable broadband Internet connectivity, citing the cost of building or upgrading the infrastructure and maintaining the network and inside wiring as the primary barriers to installing broadband Internet service. AB 1299 and our decision today modifies the CASF program to now include the grants for publicly supported housing communities, which are typically in areas where Internet service may be available, but for which the properties are not truly served because a broadband Internet cable running to the street or curb does not bring broadband Internet access to public housing residents if the building’s individual units are not wired for broadband.”
The CPUC will award up to $20 million in grants and loans to finance up to 100 percent of project costs to install inside wiring and network equipment, but not to maintain or operate the network in publicly supported housing communities. Reimbursable expenses include all networking equipment; low voltage contracting; modems or routers; engineering and design; and hardware warranty. The CPUC also will award up to $5 million in grants and loans to reimburse 85 percent of adoption projects including education and outreach efforts and materials; printers; routers; provision of technical support; and digital literacy instructors.
The CPUC is accepting applications immediately on a rolling basis, with the first deadline on January 15, 2015. The CPUC is also accepting applications for the CASF Infrastructure Grant/Loan accounts (applications can be filed any time while funds remain available).
The proposal voted on is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M143/K588/143588832.PDF.