Spiral Internet and Google’s Exit from Fiber

You may have read the recent announcement that Alphabet (now the parent company of Google) was stopping the rollout of Google Fiber’s gigabit internet networks. First of all, this announcement – in no way, shape or form – affects Spiral Internet’s gigabit 100% fiber optic internet network here in Nevada County. Our project was never connected to Google. Ever. We are moving ahead in a great way, expecting to break ground in spring of next year.

You also may remember that we did use Google’s announcement in 2010 to host a rally, parade and party. We wanted to see if there was interest here for this kind of network. Well, if you attended the event in March 2010, then you know that a nerve had been hit. Our community was ecstatic. If you didn’t, then it is worth watching the video we created at 95959google. We knew all along that Google would choose large metropolitan areas to deploy its networks. And it did. Fiber optic networks in Kansas City, Austin, and Provo are all under construction.

So, why did Alphabet decide to exit? The Washington Post has a good analysis in an article it posted earlier this week. In summary, Google Fiber was never going to be the cash cow that Google “search” had become. In order to bring in the returns expected by shareholders, there is no question that Alphabet needed to trim those (now separate) companies that were not highly profitable.

We don’t agree with the author that “… it may have been just a little ahead of its time …”. But we do agree that the “big incumbents made Google’s job harder,” as it chose cities where existing cable providers already offered the fastest speeds available – albeit not gigabit, and not over 100% fiber optic infrastructure. Spiral is building where cable internet is not available here.

The good news is that that hundreds of local/regional internet service providers and municipalities across the country, are constructing gigabit fiber optic internet networks. This is a direct result of Google Fiber’s brazen declaration in 2010 that symmetrical gigabit internet speeds are essential in our communities; much to the chagrin of the large telcos and cable providers.

The much better news is that building and offering service over gigabit fiber networks is a solid business model for providers like Spiral Internet. As a local company that owns its network, we will be able to bring customers exactly what they want in real time.

Say, for instance, the Nevada County Association of Realtors is conducting a workshop for 100 Realtors at its office. For a two-hour period, each person will need to be online. From our office, we can easily throttle up access from 1 Gbps (gigabits per second) symmetrical (downstream/upstream) to 10 or 20 Gbps. Bingo. Everyone has ultra-fast access, so the workshop training can proceed smoothly.

This is only one example of many exciting uses of Spiral’s new ultra fast network. Early on we said, “our future is bright.” It’s no longer in the future. It’s happening. Now.

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Spiral’s Gigabit Fiber Optic Project Update

We’ve had an incredibly busy year at Spiral Internet since our $16.7M funding from the California Public Utilities Commission was approved. We know we’ve been quiet about our state-of-the-art gigabit 100% fiber optic internet network project. However, everything is being put in place so we can begin construction. The “shovels” will hit the ground in early 2017.

Environmental Assessment Ready to Go
Recently, we completed a comprehensive environmental assessment of our Zone A project area, which will cover 26 square miles and 150 linear miles of construction. (Who knew there were so many amazing historical and biological assets in western Nevada County? We sure do now.) The next step is to send it to the California Public Utilities Commission for review. We will absolutely build our network to carefully preserve these past and future resources.

Neighborhood Champions
In order to reach everyone in our project areas, we knew we needed “neighborhood champions” to help us. To date, we have 74 people who have volunteered to organize their neighborhoods in Zone A. That number is crazy wonderful. We’re honored and thrilled to have so many folks willing to work with us to bring ultra-high speed internet service to their neighbors in south county.

In early November, we’ll be hosting informative and fun workshops to bring those champions “up to speed” on what it will take to have their neighborhoods lit up with fiber first. (Yes, it will be a bit of a competition. The neighborhoods with the highest percentage of sign-ups will be built first.)

If you’re willing to volunteer as your neighborhood’s champion, call Nick (Spiral’s Neighborhood Coordinator) at 478-9822 x203.

Sign up for Service to Start Soon
Once the champions hit the road, households and businesses in Zone A will be able to sign up for service. There will be no cost to bring the fiber optic cable all the way to the outside of your home during our initial 2-year construction period. Our construction crews will do the trenching and installation. All underground.

“Internet at the Speed of Your Mind”
Yes, that’s what we’re calling our symmetrical 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) internet access. 1 Gigabit per second = 1,000 Megabits per second (Mbps) of speed. In contrast, the fastest speed a household might now have in non-cable internet areas is 25 Mbps downstream and 1.5 Mbps upstream via a fixed wireless provider. And that level of speed is rare and “asymmetrical”. So uploading is very slow.

“Symmetrical” means 1 Gbps downstream and 1 Gbps upstream. This is important for high-definition video calls/conferencing, gaming, virtual reality, home tele-healthcare, and other new internet applications that are being developed. If you have poor cell phone reception at your home now, it will be crystal clear on the WiFi network that our fiber optic modem provides.

Also, we are building what’s called an “active ethernet” network. So, you will get a true 1 Gigabit experience at all times. This is unlike fixed wireless or cable, where bandwidth is shared, and service can slow down to a crawl during peak usage.

And there is one more bonus … according to a 2015 Fiber to the Home Council study, the value of your home will increase by an average of 7% just because it’s connected to a gigabit fiber optic network.

A Long and Winding Road
We know it’s been quite the wait, but 2017 will see the future begin to arrive here in Nevada County, even before it arrives in the San Francisco Bay Area and most of California.

Remember, if you haven’t done so already, please “map” yourself at spiral.com/fiber.

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Gigabit Project Update

We’ve been quiet here at Nevada County Connected, but Spiral’s gigabit fiber optic project has been steadily moving forward for the past three months. Before we break ground this fall, we’ve been compiling an exhaustive environmental report in the Zone A project area. This includes identifying and mapping both biological and historical assets. Given both our Gold Rush and native American histories, as well as our foothill water and plant diversity, there’s been a lot to map. The good news is that since we will be boring (yes, all underground) primarily along the edge of existing roads, our approval should move forward readily upon submittal.

Also, our new offices in the Nevada County Tech Center are being designed and the full team is expected to come aboard at summer’s end. Nick Katzman, Spiral’s Neighborhood Coordinator, is already scheduling Zone A homeowner’s and road association meetings. If you’d like to set one up, call Nick at 478-9822.

It’s an exciting time. Once we hit the dirt, they’ll be lots to report and these posts will be much more frequent. Stay tuned and thanks for your patience.

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