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COM/MP1/avs Date of Issuance 2/8/2012
Decision 12-02-015 February 1, 2012
BEFORE THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Order Instituting Rulemaking to Consider Modifications to the California Advanced Services Fund Including Those Necessary to Implement Loan Program and Other Provisions of Recent Legislation.
(Filed December 16, 2010)
DECISION IMPLEMENTING BROADBAND GRANT
AND REVOLVING LOAN PROGRAM PROVISIONS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
APPENDIX 1 - Broadband Infrastructure Grant Account - Revised to Application Requirements and Guidelines
APPENDIX 2 - Broadband Infrastructure Revolving Loan Account -
Application Requirements and Guidelines
In this decision, we continue to implement California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) program measures. We first implemented the CASF in Decision (D.) 07-12-054, which inaugurated a program to award grants to support deployment of broadband1 infrastructure projects offering advanced communications services.
Specifically, in this decision, we implement provisions of Senate Bill (SB) 1040 relating to the Broadband Infrastructure Grant Account (Grant Account) and Revolving Loan (Loan Account) Programs, as explained below.2 We adopt updated rules for administering the CASF Grant Account program set forth as Appendix 1. We also adopt initial rules for administering the CASF Revolving Loan Account as set forth as Appendix 2 of this decision.
As noted in D.07-12-054, promoting the widespread availability of advanced services through deployment of broadband holds tremendous opportunities for consumers, technology providers, and content providers. By encouraging the deployment of advanced communications services in unserved and underserved regions of California, we promote economic growth, job creation, and the substantial social benefits of advanced information and communications technologies.3 The CASF program thereby advances universal service policies aimed at bridging the "digital divide" as articulated in Pub. Util. Code § 709(c) and (d).4 We emphasize that the ultimate goal of the CASF program is to increase the adoption of broadband.
The Commission first implemented the CASF program in D.07-12-054, establishing procedures to award grants of financial assistance to qualifying broadband deployment projects. The Commission subsequently approved funding for a significant number of qualifying broadband projects under the CASF program.
Prior to SB 1040, the CASF was scheduled to sunset on January 1, 2013. SB 1040 repealed the CASF sunset provision, however, and expanded the program significantly, increasing the CASF fund capacity from $100 million to $225 million. The additional funds will be collected in annual $25 million increments from 2011 through 2015. SB 1040 also created two new accounts, the Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortia Grant and the Broadband Infrastructure Revolving Loan accounts. SB 1040 allocated funds as follows to three accounts now established under the CASF:
· The Broadband Infrastructure Grant Account ($100 million);
· The Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortia Grant Account ($10 million) ; and
· The Broadband Infrastructure Revolving Loan Account ($15 million).5
The purpose of the Loan Account is to finance capital costs of broadband facilities not funded by a grant from the Broadband Infrastructure Grant Account. The Commission views the CASF Loan Account as an additional option for applicants to use as supplemental funding to the Grant Account so that a project can more likely be financially feasible and move forward. Research of existing loan programs has also shown that applicants typically do not just apply for a loan if an award is available in the form of combined grant/loan funds. Therefore, the Commission hereby sets up the Loan Account within the CASF program as a supplemental funding venue for qualified projects and applicants under the Grant Account and not as a sole source of funding to a project.
1 Broadband refers to the width of frequency bands used to transmit data or voice communications over the Internet. Depending on the width of the frequency band, information can be sent on many different frequencies or channels with broadband concurrently, allowing for advanced services, including video, to be transmitted at much faster speeds than would otherwise be available over a dial-up telephone connection to the Internet.
2 SB 1040 is codified at California Public Utilities (Pub .Util.) Code § 281.
3 See Pub. Util. Code § 281.
4 The California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) has set a goal of broadband access for at least 98% of households and 80% adoption by 2015 and 90% by 2020. Both CETF and CASF are promoting broadband deployment in areas of California and aim at bridging digital divide.
5 See id. §§ 281(a), (b)(1).