Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Gov. Schwarzenegger Applauds Today's Broadband Stimulus Awards for California 08/04/2010 San Francisco - California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger  (R-CA) today applauded the $15.12 million in broadband stimulus awards announced by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for four rural service providers in the Golden State.

Cisco CEO John Chambers (l) seen with Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger (R-CA) at a Cisco sponsored telehealth event.
As reported earlier today, Vilsack and the White House announced $1.2 billion in broadband stimulus federal awards from the pool of stimulus appropriations administered by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In a statement released by his office at the State Capitol in Sacramento, Schwarzenegger said, “The broadband projects awarded to California businesses today will serve to benefit thousands of Californians in rural communities. These projects are vital to driving long-term economic growth in these areas by providing advanced technologies, and enabling job creation for decades to come. I congratulate today’s recipients of Recovery Act funds."

What Happened to California's Broadband Stimulus?
The Governor's statement puts the best face on an issue that is of increasing concern to elected officials, economic developers, and broadband activists here in California: The relatively low broadband stimulus award ratio (on a per capita / per congressional district basis) for a state holding some of the most wired precincts on the planet, vast unserved rural areas, and significantly underserved urban regions.  The perfectly reasonable announced expectations of California broadband program officials of a year ago for upwards of $ 1 billion in broadband stimulus funding, based on a rough calculation of federal funds apportionment by the state's percent of national population, are nowhere near being delivered.

We will have more of this topic after we crunch the all the numbers flowing out of today's announcement.     

Today's California Awards
Our reading of the roster of awards for California issued today matches that of the Governor's office.  Project descriptions in the Governor's release are based on the Vilsack - White House release, which is in turn based on project descriptions of the applicants:

Cal-Ore Communications, Inc.  ($1,786,400) - Using this award of $1.8 million, the Cal-Ore Communications project will provide wireless broadband services in California's north central Siskiyou County to a predominantly unserved rural area. More than 4,800 people, 365 local businesses and 27 community institutions stand to benefit from this improved service. 

Calaveras Telephone Company ($4,086,976) - This $4.1 million award to Calaveras Telephone Company with an additional $2.3 million of outside capital will bring robust infrastructure of fiber-to-the-home technology to its existing customer footprint in Calaveras County. Calaveras' project stands to benefit approximately 1,000 people, and several businesses. 

SmarterBroadband ($2,498,724) - This $2.5 million award to SmarterBroadband will bring high quality fixed wireless service to one of the more geographically challenging areas in California. SmarterBroadband's project stands to benefit more than 33,000 people, 3,500 businesses, and approximately 300 community institutions. 

Softcom Internet Communications Inc. ($6,758,835) - This $6.8 million award to Softcom Internet Communications will provide 100% broadband availability to a large and underserved rural area. Softcom's project stands to benefit approximately 14,000 people, 4,200 businesses, and several other community institutions. 
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