Berkeley removing Sonic fiber lines?

Internet access discussion, including Fusion, IP Broadband, and Gigabit Fiber!
13 posts Page 1 of 2
by jon_squire » Mon Dec 24, 2018 11:07 am
There was a message on Nextdoor.com on Dec 23 that the City of Berkeley was going to force Sonic to remove all of its fiber optic from the trenches, anyone know more about this? Refers to UUD 48, perhaps this is limited to a portion of the Berkeley Hills?
by diamondhaber » Mon Dec 24, 2018 2:30 pm
John,

My understanding is that, under the current deal, neighborhoods newly undergounding utilities will lose Sonic fiber, b/c the current arrangement makes no provision for other than PG&E, Comcast and AT&T.

This would not currently affect neighborhoods with wires on poles, like ours.

But it's still a bad idea, and we should pressure the City to change this (I assume Sonic would support).

Our new City Council rep is Rashi Kesarwani, rkesarwani@cityofberkeley.info

-matt haber
by dane » Mon Dec 24, 2018 3:44 pm
Utility undergrounding is done under California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) "Rule 20". You can learn more about the Rule 20 programs here: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/General.aspx?id=4403 PG&E also has a good information page which includes an overview of the different types of projects, plus a list of the pending Rule 20A projects, at https://www.pge.com/en_US/residential/c ... ogram.page

The challenge for communications utilities is that while the undergrounding cost for the electric portion is paid for by ratepayers via an approx 2% surcharge on your electric bill, communication provider costs are not covered for Rule 20A projects. And because these projects involve a big trench for the electric system, the overall project cost is very, very high. And based upon the way that costs in these projects is allocated, a communications provider ends up paying between 17% and 25% of the cost of the entire undergrounding project.

The irony is that the cost is mostly the trench infrastructure itself; inclusion of communications conduits during the back-fill is not a large cost driver. Participation in the project by communications providers like Sonic doesn't change much the overall cost - but covering the project cost isn't feasible for modern, non-monopoly carriers. Put another way, this made more sense when all utility rates were regulated and we had a telephone, cable-tv and electric monopoly: the CPUC governed the utility rates, and allowed them to recover the cost of undergrounding via the rate-setting mechanism. This no longer makes sense in a modern, post-monopoly utility world.

As a result, it is currently our expectation that if and when utilities are moved underground in a neighborhood, that we will likely stop providing service in that area.

There is a regulatory rulemaking underway now (R.17-05-010) at the CPUC that could include communications providers in the undergrounding Rule 20A cost allocation, and that outcome is certainly something we have been and will continue to advocate for. Comments in that proceeding can be filed until January 11th, but current guidance from the CPUC is that they're not looking for significant changes to the program (emphasis below is mine.)

"Pursuant to that schedule, comments on the
issues identified by the scoping memo and party proposals for “improvements to the
Rule 20A program that may be implemented on a near-term basis” are to be filed and
served by December 21, 2018 (extended to January 11th, 2019). Section 4 of the
Scoping Memo states the solicited proposals “may include modifications to credit and
project tracking and reporting, contract terms, or the re-allocation of unused credits
from cities without active undergrounding programs. We will not entertain large
structural changes to the program at this time.


That said caveat being said, consumers can participate in and comment on CPUC proceedings, so if you are interested in the outcome of this rulemaking, that is a worth considering. There are a couple options, but the easiest is to file informal comments, here is a guide on that process: http://consumers.cpuc.ca.gov/written_informal_comments/ Please note that if you email comments, be sure to include the proceeding number, R1705010 with your comments to make sure that they are properly routed.

Other useful materials on this topic:
An Updated Study on the Undergrounding of Overhead Power Lines
CPUC Undergrounding Presentation
Program Review / California Overhead Conversion Program, 2011-2015
Dane Jasper
CEO
Sonic
by SeanO » Mon Dec 24, 2018 4:19 pm
I fI understand correctly, this is the area affected:
https://www.berkeleyundergrounding.com/ ... eak-summit

Note there are other areas that appear to also be under development, though they mostly appear limited to higher elevations. IT is still in our interest (as Berkeley residents) to keep an eye on these changes.
by dane » Wed Dec 26, 2018 5:32 pm
SeanO wrote:
I fI understand correctly, this is the area affected:
https://www.berkeleyundergrounding.com/ ... eak-summit

Note there are other areas that appear to also be under development, though they mostly appear limited to higher elevations. IT is still in our interest (as Berkeley residents) to keep an eye on these changes.


This is the region:

Image

Here's the Sonic map, for FDA 39 - much of it is affected by this pending project:

Image


All of the fiber has already been placed on the poles in this region, as we were unaware of the planned undergrounding that's anticipated next year. We are working now to decide on our course of action.
Dane Jasper
CEO
Sonic
by asoglin » Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:42 am
Dane, thanks for providing your detailed response and guidance on how we can take action with the CPUC. I'm in Albany and wonder whether you have knowledge of which current Sonic-served areas are likely to lose service as a result of the city's current undergrounding projects. My street is supposed to get undergrounding in the next year or so. Any of us, whether we're affected now or not, should be reaching out to express our concerns to local and state officials.
by dane » Mon Dec 31, 2018 12:22 pm
asoglin wrote:
Dane, thanks for providing your detailed response and guidance on how we can take action with the CPUC. I'm in Albany and wonder whether you have knowledge of which current Sonic-served areas are likely to lose service as a result of the city's current undergrounding projects. My street is supposed to get undergrounding in the next year or so. Any of us, whether we're affected now or not, should be reaching out to express our concerns to local and state officials.


Here is a list of pending Rule 20A projects. Aside from the Grizzley Peak project, we don't believe we have any Sonic fiber infrastructure in place which would be affected by any pending projects.

Regarding your street in Albany, I only see one project in Albany, which is Marin ave and Buchanan. Sonic did not build there, because of the pending project - the result being there are a few blocks on Marin and Buchanan and North of Buchanan where Sonic fiber is not available. (We are working to approach from the North to reach homes North of Marin, FYI in case someone else reading this is one of those.) Cities with good "dig once" policies can prevent those sort of gaps, but few cities have them in place. Brentwood is the best example of a city with a good policy, and I'm unaware of any others with one that has worked as well.

Where did you get the impression that undergrounding was going to happen on your street in the next year or so? Maybe it's a Rule 20C project, where neighbors group together to vote to pay the full costs of undergrounding? If so, that wouldn't be an issue for us, as the project is paid for by the neighborhood itself.
Dane Jasper
CEO
Sonic
by dane » Mon Dec 31, 2018 3:01 pm
diamondhaber wrote:
John,

My understanding is that, under the current deal, neighborhoods newly undergounding utilities will lose Sonic fiber, b/c the current arrangement makes no provision for other than PG&E, Comcast and AT&T.

This would not currently affect neighborhoods with wires on poles, like ours.

But it's still a bad idea, and we should pressure the City to change this (I assume Sonic would support).

Our new City Council rep is Rashi Kesarwani, rkesarwani@cityofberkeley.info

-matt haber


Matt, to be clear: Any utility can join an undergrounding project under Rule 20A. This includes incumbent telco, cable, and competitive carriers. The issue is the way costs are allocated - and while PG&E accrues funds toward undergrounding projects via a statewide customer surcharge, communications provider's costs are not covered by these funds.

There is some historical context here to be considered: telephone service was a regulated rate product, and virtually every household paid for telephone service. The telephone company would simply document the cost of various undergrounding projects and those costs would be passed on in the regulated voice service rates. Cable got similar treatment, with citywide exclusive franchises, and rate-setting that allowed for local coverage of the costs of undergrounding projects.

Today both of those services are deregulated, and both are under pressure, from mobile phones, streaming video, etc. So it's clear to me at the system of cost allocation under Rule 20A is due for an update - and we'll be advocating for changes to that program in hopes of including all existing infrastructure in undergrounding projects.
Dane Jasper
CEO
Sonic
by digitalbitstream » Mon Dec 31, 2018 7:25 pm
I'm setting up a mailing list, intended for future opportunities to lobby the CPUC on this issue.
See:
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum ... -utilities
Just ask to join and state your interest.

It's pretty clear that Berkeley simply forgot about this issue in planning UUD #48, or alternatively that when they planned it years ago it looked like AT&T and Comcast where the only duopoly that mattered.


I think it's crazy that a mandatory tax gets used to build under a public street, and lock out all future expansion. Crazy.
by msandrof » Tue Jan 01, 2019 9:47 am
If you've got time on your hands, you might want to read this.
13 posts Page 1 of 2

Who is online

In total there are 16 users online :: 3 registered, 0 hidden and 13 guests (based on users active over the past 5 minutes)
Most users ever online was 422 on Sat May 26, 2012 5:28 am

Users browsing this forum: apl, Bing [Bot], kyle.depasquale and 13 guests