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Keynote of Rachelle Chong at Rural Telecom Congress Mtg. Nov 11 2010

Keynote of Rachelle Chong at Rural Telecom Congress Mtg. Nov 11 2010

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Published by Rachelle Chong
Speech of Rachelle Chong, Special Counsel, Office of the CIO, State of California, at Rural Telecom Congress Rural Broadband Meeting, Mesa, AZ Nov. 11, 2010
Speech of Rachelle Chong, Special Counsel, Office of the CIO, State of California, at Rural Telecom Congress Rural Broadband Meeting, Mesa, AZ Nov. 11, 2010

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Published by: Rachelle Chong on Nov 18, 2010
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Keynote Address of Rachelle Chong, Special Counsel,Advanced Information and Communications Technologies,Office of the CIO, State of CaliforniaRural Telecom CongressNovember 11, 2010“The Secret Sauce to Rural Broadband”
 Thank you very much for inviting me to speak today. I appreciate theintroduction by my former FCC staffer Angela Wu. She has an important rolegetting better broadband to the State of Washington, and I am very proud of her work there. I also wanted to thank Galen Updike for his kind invitation tobe here. I always enjoy these meetings because I learn so much from otherstates. Closer collaboration and upgrading our state’s broadband expertiseis critical to our shared success.Now when you think of California, usually you think of our big cities: SanFrancisco and Los Angeles. But actually, California is a big state with manyrural areas. From our broadband mapping exercise that began in 2007 inour State, I know that the far north, the Central Valley, the Eastern Sierras,the Central Coast and the southeast areas of California have slow or nobroadband.And we know why: there are fewer consumers out there and so the Returnon Investment (ROI) often does not “pencil out” for the broadband providers– usually rural telcos and rural cable companies - in these regions.Further, in my state, the dated regulatory scheme reimbursed cost of servicetelephone companies for voice service only, not broadband. So theregulatory incentives were wrong.One of our groups did a state broadband survey through Public PolicyInstitute of California and decided to focus our Digital Divide efforts on thefour groups that survey highlighted as being on the wrong side of the divide:low income, certain minority groups (particularly Hispanic in my state),rural/remote, and people with disabilities. I am going to focus on what wedid on the rural side today only.So what can a state do to try and bring broadband to rural areas? Californiahas been working on this challenge since 2006. Today, I am going to revealsome ingredients that might turn into a recipe for success to get broadbandto your rural areas. I don’t have any surefire recipe for success. Every stateis different but we have tried a lot of things in California – we sort of threw upa lot of mud on the wall. So I am going to share with you what stuck. Thiswas all well before there was a ballyhooed National Broadband Plan! Maybesome of this may work for you.
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1.
You Might Try Forming a Broadband Task Force or a StateBroadband Leadership Council
In California, state leadership made all the difference. We were lucky in thatwe had a rare convergence of leadership on broadband in the Governor’sOffice, the state Legislature and the California Public Utilities Commission. Icannot emphasize enough how much that leadership made all the difference.So you need to find some champions in those places to help you makebroadband happen in your rural areas.In 2006, Governor Schwarzenegger formed a blue ribbon Broadband TaskForce in 2006 to make recommendations to him on how to improvebroadband in the state. He was our own action hero! His Hollywood rootsled him to understand our broadband pipes were inadequate for the workthat major studios needed to do around the world. He felt it was critical toeconomic development. Like schools and freeways, broadband wasinfrastructure that had been not keeping pace with other global economies.I was privileged to serve on that Task Force, and to be one of the stateofficials charged with implementing those recommendations in the last fouryears, both at the California PUC and then at the Office of the CIO. Under the Task Force, California issued two reports on what to do about broadband.Our reports are on the Office of the CIO, State of California website, and Iurge you to read them, as they are chock full of very good recommendationsand ideas. When the FCC wrote the National Broadband Plan, I am told theywere all required to read the California Task Force report as a starting point. The great thing about the Task Force Report is it put focus on the problemand united leaders in the state to try and solve it. Then the Governorassigned implementation of the report’s recommendations to particular stateagencies, and ordered us to get it done.Recently, a bill (SB 1462 - Padilla) was passed to create a CaliforniaBroadband Council. It establishes in state government a council to maximizeCalifornia’s opportunities for federal funds under the new NationalBroadband Plan released by the FCC, to increase coordination in BBdeployment and adoption by state agencies. It brings together secretaries of key state agencies, the public utilities commission, the legislature, theGovernor’s Office, and the CETF president. This is another path to creatingstate leadership.
2.
You Want to Be Sure To Do Your Broadband Mapping
One of the things the Task Force did in 2007 was to perform the State’s firstevery broadband mapping. We learned about mapping from Connect
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Kentucky. I always give them credit because it was key to everything we didlater. The California Broadband Task Force had to cajole the phone and cablecompanies to give us the availability information. It wasn’t easy! Phonecalls by regulators to senior company personnel had to occur, if you get mydrift. But in their infinite wisdom, the major phone companies and cablecompanies voluntarily agreed to do so.Interestingly, later on, the providers privately admitted they were glad theydid. One, they benefitted from the California mapping results. In fact itrevealed a lot of things that surprised them, they said. And second, whenthe debate about the national broadband mapping took place a few yearslater, they had some experience with mapping. Give California their datawas not as bad as they thought initially, and so it helped pave the way to thenational agreement with the federal agencies on data. The reason mapping is so important is you can then nail down withparticularity where the real broadband gaps exist. This helps you avoid allthe “waste, fraud and abuse” arguments later when you are proposinginfrastructure projects -- because you can prove the areas are unserved orunderserved. It helps you find allies in the rural areas with legislators andcounty leaders.By the way we defined underserved areas as places with speeds below 3Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload.
3.
You Might Set Up a Non Profit Organization Whose Sole Job isthe Narrowing the Digital Divide
It is hard to do this work part time. In 2005, two CPUC commissioners, MikePeevey and Susan Kennedy, had the foresight to put some focus and muscleon the problems by forming a non profit organization, the CaliforniaEmerging Technology Fund (CETF), whose job is to try and narrow the digitaldivide. Quite a mission statement. The California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) was funded using $60million in seed money donated by AT&T and Verizon in relationship to twomergers in 2005. CETF matches this seed money in a 3:1 ratio to leverage itinto $240 million.CETF has performed much of the work in rural demand aggregation, which Iwill discuss more in #10.
4.
You Might Set the Regulatory Table for Broadband.
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