Green light for PUD’s broadband service
One year after Cebridge Connections placed a stopper on the Truckee Donner Public Utility District’s plan to provide broadband cable, a judge has ruled that the district has the right to deliver the service.On Monday, a ruling was issued in favor of the Nevada County Local Agency Formation Commission’s (LAFCo) decision to allow the utility district to provide high-speed broadband service to its customers.”The PUD and LAFCo prevailed on every claim,” said Steven Gross, the utility district’s attorney. “We hope that Cebridge will accept this and move on.”Though Cebridge Connections officials have not yet decided what their next move will be, the cable television provider has the option of appealing the decision, according to Pete Abel, the company’s vice president of community relations.”It is too soon to tell what we will decide,” Able said. “The majority of our time is focused on improving our local business, but we are going to take some time to look at our options and consider the next steps. “Whatever happens we are going to proceed in a manner that we think best meets the needs of our Truckee customers and employees.”Now that district officials have received the green light to develop its broadband infrastructure, they will now go back to their board of directors and review the original plan, according to PUD General Manager Peter Holzmeister.”[We are going to] talk to the finance world and see if they are ready to proved funding, and see if it is a go or a no-go on the broadband project,” he said. “We need to re-group and re-evaluate.”The district’s broadband plan was put into motion approximately five years ago when its board decided to provide high-speed Internet service, television programming, and telephone service to Truckee via a fiber-to-the-user network. Cebridge, which entered the Truckee market in 2004 when it took over USA Media, took legal action over what it saw to be faulty business plans on the side of the district. Cebridge cited cross-subsidization, using revenue from one service to pay for another; and the right to provide a non-utility service, as two major points of contention. BACK IT UP:October 1999: The Truckee Donner Public Utility District begins plans to provide broadband cable service to its customers, and looks for approval from the quasi-legislative Nevada County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo)July 2004: Cebridge Connections, 11th largest cable television provider in the country, begins acquisition of USA Media’s cable franchise in TruckeeAugust 2004: LAFCo gives the PUD the go-ahead to begin providing broadband services to its customers.September 2004: Cebridge Connections files an appeal with LAFCo regarding its decision to allow the PUD to provide broadband service. LAFCo agrees to continue discussions, delaying the district’s financing and construction efforts.October 2004: LAFCo’ s telecommunications subcommittee rejects many of the arguments put forth by Cebridge and once again gives the go-ahead for the PUD to continue with broadband planning. However, the commission does recommended that a number of changes be made to the district’s broadband business plan. Representatives from Cebridge Connections say that they will continue to contest the district’s broadband plan and will ask for a validation hearing on LAFCo’s approval in the California Superior Court in Nevada City.November 2005: A judge of the California Superior Court reviews documents and arguments from Cebridge and LAFCo regarding the legality of the PUD’s right to provide broadband service to its customers. December 2005: The judges rules in favor of LAFCo’s decision backing the legality of the PUD’s right to provide cable.
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