[CalFiber] Notes from Mar 12 Friday call

Ernesto Falcon ernesto at eff.org
Tue Mar 16 16:23:10 PDT 2021

Side note, I wrote this piece summarizing the various broadband pieces moving in Sacramento this year

  1.  Updates from Sacramento (AB 14/SB 4 discussion)

The bills are coming closer together and CAC, Sen. Gonzalez, and the Governor's team will have to hash out the final edges of an agreement. Once the two bills are essentially merged, support should be given to both bills.

  1.  Updates from DC (House broadband infrastructure package), also related a bipartisan Senate endorsement of a 100/100 mbps standard for broadband (federal definition is 25/3) including Joe Manchin who is often seen as the hardest to pin down Senator on the Democratic side https://www.bennet.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?id=2C769043-69ED-426B-B30A-57981A4BA333).

Legislation will be heading towards the larger infrastructure effort and will overlap a lot with the work we're doing here in Sacramento. Also the federal standard will likely be updated this year by Biden's new FCC Chair, there is a lot of pushing for 100/100 low latency as the standard.

One thing to flag about the way the Democrats are going to approach passing a massive infrastructure bill if they receive no GOP support is the means to bypass the Senate filibuster prohibits policy, which means this might become a giant pot of broadband money given to the Executive branch who will decide the standards and goals of the program.

  1.  Updates on AB 34 (ballot initiative on broadband)

This bill still hasn't been made public but its basically looking like a very good bill based on initial feedback. Essentially the state would take on $8 billion in debt to finance a grant program that will favor open access fiber. Would use the Department of Technology as the grant making agency, which is concerning in that they have no experience in that space, and likely was an ask from cable who want to avoid having the regulator in charge of making these decisions.

  1.  Anything else?

Caballero franchise bill - EFF will have a research memo published soon talking about local franchise power for major cities and how it has benefited New York City. The same will be true for LA, SF, Oakland and other major CA cities. However, concerns were raised about the bargaining power of rural townships is much more limited and they probably need the state to retain authority over the franchising both from a resources and a negotiating power perspective. Sean McLaughlin noted that the CPUC doesn't have clear authority to audit and regulate franchise holders who fail to meet the requirements of the license to sell broadband in California.

Line Extension Program - CPUC has been doing some rethinking about it, Ernesto suggested seeing if there is room to remake the program to assist citizens connect to their own fiber. Chris Mitchell did a long interview on this topic (https://muninetworks.org/content/expanding-high-speed-internet-access-america-through-fiber-condominiums). If there are any changes to the program, it'll come from the Governor's office into the SB 4 discussion.

Ernesto Omar Falcon
Senior Legislative Counsel
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Office: 415 436 9333 ext. 182
Cell: 202 716 0770

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