I wanted to provide an update for the community regarding the state of broadband internet in Pioneertown.
Before we begin, some thanks are in order for the Friends of Pioneertown. Their guidance and funding has made this project possible.
Late last year, I approached The Friend’s board with a plan to evaluate bringing broadband to Pioneertown though the use of state and federal grants. This ultimately resulted in the formation of the Pioneertown Broadband Committee, of which I am a member.
The following goals are at the core of it’s charter:
- give residents the basic safety & security afforded by reliable communications
- facilitate technologies such as tele-health, tele-work and tele-presence
- provide students the opportunity to utilize online learning
- enable us to take advantage of ‘smart’ technologies that make our lives easier
- improve communications for first responders and rural disaster relief
Since joining the committee, I’ve learned that while these goals can be accomplished, there are several challenges in the way of doing so.
The most significant of which is Frontier.
In 2015 Frontier was awarded a federal grant of more than a billion dollars to build broadband infrastructure throughout large portions of rural America, including the Morongo basin.
Sounds like great news, right? Not really.
Frontier manipulated the grant program so as to give themselves an effective monopoly on rural broadband deployment.
Even despite this anti-competitive setting, generous funding and lengthy timelines, Frontier still:
- was dishonest in reporting deployments
- failed to deliver service in many areas
- fought the FCC in raising minimum broadband speeds
- filed for bankruptcy
Basically, Frontier has used federal funding to create an environment in which they can suppress broadband availability and performance.
All that said, there is some light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.
The Morongo basin already has the technology and talent to deliver high quality broadband internet.
Both the state and county are aware of frontier’s antics and are working toward re-allocation of state grant funding.
Myself and @Erica_Johnson have been working with others in the community to unify the various broadband initiatives throughout the hi desert, giving us a more powerful voice.
Through the efforts of local ISP’s and and other advocacy organizations (like the friend’s), we are beginning to see a future where we can focus on the needs of our community rather than the short sighted goals of some company and their greedy investors.
The first evidence of this is that starting in July, the State Utilities Commission will reopen broadband grant submissions, including areas already covered by Frontier’s federal grant.
This was a big win for rural communities all over California.
There is still a lot going on behind the scenes and much more work to do.
That said, I’m fairly confident that Pioneertown will have fast, reliable broadband internet around the end of this year.
I will keep this topic up to date as things progress