Net Neutral Internet Provider Gets $2.45 Million Grant

The money comes as part of a broadband grant from the California Advanced Series Fund, a grant program started in 2008 to bridge the digital divide in unserved and underserved areas in that state.

by Elaine Ingalls, Santa Cruz Sentinel / January 31, 2020

(TNS) — Some mobile home parks in Capitola, Calif., will have access to better broadband, thanks to a $2.45 million grant internet service provider Cruzio recently received.

Cruzio, based in downtown Santa Cruz, Calif., announced this month that it was awarded a $2.45 million broadband grant on Dec. 5 from the California Advanced Series Fund, a grant program started in 2008 to “bridge the digital divide” in unserved and underserved areas in the state.

An unserved area does not have any form of wireline or wireless facilities-based broadband, meaning internet is available only through dial-up service, according to the California Public Utilities Commission. The grant Cruzio received is for the Equal Access Santa Cruz Project, which will build high-speed fiber optic internet connectivity to seven underserved mobile home parks in the Capitola area: Rodeo Mobile Estates, Soquel Gardens, Alimur, Blue & Gold Star, Castle Mobile Estates, Shangri-La Estates and Opal Cliffs. Altogether, these parks have 773 units, according to James Hackett, director of business operations at Cruzio.

“We’re honored to accept the grant for a great project,” Hackett said in a Cruzio press release. “Internet is vital to modern life and needs to be available equally to all, no matter what their location or economic circumstances.”

Providing broadband to these areas will improve the lives of residents and increase property value, Hackett told the Sentinel. The mobile home parks aren’t getting more than 6 megabits per second for downloads and 1 Mbps for uploads, he said, which is the CPUC’s standard for served areas. For perspective, general internet browsing and email has a minimum download speed of 1 Mbps and streaming HD video has a minimum download speed of 5-8 Mbps, according to the Federal Communications Commission. With broadband, these mobile home parks can both download and upload at a speed up to 1 Gigabit per second, Hackett said. “It’s an absolutely incredible upgrade,” Hackett said.

The grant requires that construction, which is expected to start at the end of this year or the beginning of 2021, be completed within a year of its start date, according to Hackett. When offered the grant, Cruzio committed to offering low-income customers in the mobile home parks a subsidized rate of $15 per month for high-speed internet for five years, he said. Low income means household incomes less than $33,820 for a single or two-person household or $51,500 for a four-person household, according to the California Alternate Rates for Energy program.

Cruzio received the grant after Charter Communications Inc. and Comcast challenged the company on providing funding for census blocks that already had broadband. Cruzio had to revise its project application to only include areas without broadband infrastructure or service.

Established in 1989, Cruzio provides independent, Net Neutral internet to thousands of businesses, government entities and individual residences in Santa Cruz. Information: visit cruzio.com or santacruzfiber.com.

©2020 the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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