Public Utility Commission talks Connect America Fund

Internet Advisory Committee hold meeting about CAF

LEWISTOWN–David E. Screven, acting Deputy Chief Counsel from the Law Bureau Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, gave a presentation to the Mifflin County Internet Advisory Committee on Wednesday.

Screven presented the committee with the Connect America Fund (CAF) information from Pennsylvania and Mifflin County. The creation of the CAF was to help preserve and advance voice and robust broadband services–both fixed and mobile–in high cost rural and insular areas that would not receive service otherwise.

The distribution of the CAF is through an incentive based, market driven, competitive bidding process. A price cap is put in place as a way to determine what areas qualify for the CAF. If the price cap is greater than or equal to $207.81 are eligible for Remote Area Fund (RAF), between $207.81 and $52.50 are eligible for CAF Phase II funds and less than or equal to $52.50 are not eligible for anything.

In Pennsylvania, the offer of model based support was targeted to census blocks lacking unsubsidized competitors offering service at speeds of less than 4 Mbps downstream to 1 Mbps upstream where the cost fell between $52.50 and $198.60. Verizon as a company declined the offer of model based support to rural, unserved high cost eligible census blocks in its service territory in Pennsylvania. Verizon was offered $23.27 million over six years.

The goal for the fund is to get the unserviced people in the area the up to date service they need. The possible expansion of census blocks could hinder the goal of getting areas like Mifflin County the service they need.

Scott Kramer, of SEDA-COG, provided an update of the proposed Rural Broadband Revolving Loan Fund Pilot Project for Mifflin, Juniata and Perry Counties. Funding for the project is coming from the state in the amount of $300,000 that will be split between the three counties. In Mifflin County, they are looking to try to reach 30-40 residences in the McVeytown area along South River Road.

Bill Gomes, spoke to the committee at the end of the meeting to discuss the future direction with him retiring at years end. “We started this group over three years ago to promote broadband in the area. I am not sure where we are going to be but, we did make some progress in our time together. I hope we can continue the progress with the committee going forward.”


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