[CalFiber] FW: CALIFORNIA – PUC Requires Open Access to Subsidized Middle-Mile Fiber

Ernesto Falcon ernesto at eff.org
Fri Mar 5 10:31:52 PST 2021

Middle mile fiber funded by the state has to be open access now. I think this is probably going to disincentivize big cable and Frontier Communications from applying for more state money on account they hate sharing, but that should also mean more funding for local public/private players to utilize the state dollars.

The Public Utilities Commission today adopted an order to modify certain data submission requirements for participation in the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) program and to require that broadband service providers offer open access to middle-mile infrastructure funded by CASF.
"Going forward, broadband providers wishing to demonstrate that they offer service to a given location will no longer be required to submit the Federal Communications Commission’s Form 477. Instead, they will be required to submit specific technical and subscriber data consistent with the rules adopted herein," according to today’s order.
For all middle-mile infrastructure receiving CASF funds in the future, "broadband service providers will be required to provide open access, which is defined as nondiscriminatory access to independent service providers or other entities on reasonable and equal terms, wherever technically feasible. A framework for pricing, tariffs, and standard terms and conditions must also be submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission," according to the order.
Under the open access proposal, open access "would be required at any technically feasible point along a middle-mile network funded by CASF (unless doing so would exceed current or reasonably anticipated capacity limitations)," the PUC said. "Grant recipients would be required to provide reasonable, equal, and nondiscriminatory rates and terms for all entities seeking interconnection to middle mile infrastructure funded by CASF. Recipients would be further required to publicly post their pricing, tariffs (if applicable), and terms and conditions online, and to negotiate in good faith with all requesting parties making a bona fide request for interconnection or wholesale services."
While some parties argued that an open access requirement infringed on federal authority over broadband or constituted common carrier regulation of broadband, the PUC said those claims lacked merit. "The CASF program is a voluntary state broadband deployment program, funded entirely by California ratepayers. No federal rules preempt an open access requirement for CASF projects. The commission’s rules regarding CASF awards do not constitute ‘common carrier’ regulation, as they do not apply to all carriers in the broadband industry," the PUC said.
"The open access requirement only applies to a party that chooses to accept it. A CASF awardee may accept CASF open access requirements, or the awardee may refuse the CASF award if it does not wish to comply with open access requirements. Such voluntary program requirements are not unique," the PUC said.
The decision, the PUC said, resolves Phase I of the CASF rulemaking. The rulemaking was opened last year to address "new methods of private-public partnerships, allowing and incentivizing the use of existing infrastructure, leveraging federal and other non-CASF funding, and establishing various strategies for investing in low-income households and communities for infrastructure and adoption program goals," the commission said. (Rulemaking 20-08-021)
StateRegWatch: CaliforniaNews StatePUC BroadbandDeployment
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