Karuk Tribe Wins Approval for Humboldt County Broadband Project

Karuk Tribe Wins Approval for Humboldt County Broadband Project

Posted September 14th, 2013 by seanm

On September 13, 2013 the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) released a Draft Resolution to approve funding for a new fiber broadband project in Humboldt County proposed by the Karuk Tribe in cooperation with the Yurok Tribe and other local partners. The Draft Resolution is available online here: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/SearchRes.aspx?docformat=ALL&DocID=76941689

According to the CPUC's release: "Draft Resolution T-17418 approves funding for the Karuk Tribe, from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) amounting to $6,602,422 for The Klamath River Rural Broadband Initiative Project. The draft resolution will be on the agenda of the Commission’s October 17, 2013, meeting."

Sean McLaughlin, executive director of Access Humboldt said, "We are witnessing an historic moment, a potential for a new model really, with tribal governments leading the way for remote rural deployment of basic communications infrastructure. In addition to providing an inspiration to other communities, this is a fantastic step forward for everyone in Humboldt County as this project will build a new fiber path connecting Humboldt County directly with Siskiyou County and points beyond! Notably, the project will bring service to the town of Orick which has no broadband now, and it will also open a new wireless path (built by the Yurok Tribe) to Del Norte County as well."

McLaughlin added, "Congratulations to the Karuk Tribe and partners for their vision and steadfast determination to serve communities on their ancestral lands. By Karuk Tribe joining efforts with Yurok Tribe to connect upriver Klamath (from Orleans/Panamnik) to the North Coast (at Orick and down to Big Lagoon in Humboldt) including a wireless connection to Del Norte ( from Klamath to Crescent City), this project reflects a larger vision for the longer term."

According to the CPUC's procedure, the proposal is now open for comments that must be received and served on parties no later than September 30, 2013, then reply comments may be submitted before October 7, 2013. This timeline will allow for final approval at the CPUC's October 17, 2013 meeting.

Background:
Access Humboldt is lead agency for Humboldt County and Cities to support broadband deployment, adoption and media access efforts - for broadband, these efforts are aligned with a larger regional effort coordinated by California Center for Rural Policy at Humboldt State University. http://accesshumboldt.net/site/redwood-coast-region-broadband-humboldt-u...

In February 2013, following local review, Access Humboldt endorsed the Karuk Tribe's proposal as a model for locally owned solutions to address local needs for broadband media access. While other proposals were also considered, no other proposal was endorsed.

As part of the Digital Redwoods initiative, Humboldt County support was organized and the Karuk Tribe's proposal received strong local endorsements from public safety, public education, public health, public media and a wide range of community anchor organizations.

Current Activity at CPUC (from the Resolution, available online ):

Resolution T-17418 Approval of Funding for the Grant Application of the Karuk Tribe, from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) Amounting to $6,602,422 for the Klamath River Rural Broadband Initiative Project
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"I. SUMMARY

This Resolution approves funding in the amount of $6,602,422 from the California Advanced Service Fund (CASF) for the CASF grant application of the Karuk Tribe for its Klamath River Rural Broadband Initiative Project in Humboldt County. The project will extend high-speed broadband service to 80 square miles covering the Karuk Tribe and Yurok Tribes in extremely rural and frontier environments in Northern Humboldt County. The project will install an 82.3 mile middle mile fiber optic network as well as last mile wireless broadband networks to provide broadband access to eight first responder agencies, fourteen other anchor institutions, as well as 664 households in Orick, Orleans, Johnsons, Wautec, Trinidad, Weitchpec, and other neighbors and businesses along the way where 343 households are unserved and 321 households are underserved."

"The Karuk Tribe, which holds a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) number U-7235C and the Yurok Tribe (The Tribes), created the KRRBI to deploy broadband in their highly rural, isolated, unserved and underserved tribal lands to enable the members of their tribes, who live in extremely rural and frontier environments in Northern Humboldt County, to obtain high speed Internet access. The Yurok Tribe currently operates a fixed wireless broadband network to serve a portion of their Tribe. The Karuk and Yurok Tribes have signed Letters of Intent stating that if the Karuk Tribe is awarded the CASF grant, both Tribes will roll their separate broadband operations into a new single entity so they can achieve economies of scale to serve both of their respective Tribes and their surrounding neighbors."

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For more information, contact: Sean McLaughlin, e: sean@accesshumboldt.net