NCC starts Reporting on Broadband Advances

Starting today, Nevada County Connected will begin reporting more regularly on the advances of broadband Internet access in Nevada County, in particular the western area. Two years have passed since the buzz begin about Federal stimulus funding for Internet infrastructure projects. Nevada County is on a trajectory toward much faster service for more businesses and residences.

Yesterday, the Central Valley Next-Generation Broadband Infrastructure Project (CNVGBIP) team met with county and city planning department staffs to finalize the route of the 72 strands of fiber optic cable that will wind its way through Grass Valley, Nevada City and Penn Valley beginning at Hwy 49 at the Placer County border and ending on Hwy 20 at the Yuba County border. The project is a joint non-profit/private partnership between CENIC (Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California — which operates a high-bandwidth, high-capacity Internet network specifically for the education and research communities) and CVIN (Central Valley Independent Network — a consortium of 8 small telephone companies located in rural central California).

The Federal and State funding for the project (which moves through 18 California counties) allows for three points of presence (POP) — providing 1 Gbps service to the Madelyn Helling Library, Nevada Union High School, and Bear River High School. You’ve probably seen those Cisco commercials with the kids in a classroom watching a huge LCD monitor and talking with kids in China. This will allow that, and much more. And remember, they’ll be connected to the CENIC network of universities and colleges.

Additionally, “manhole” access will be built-in at various strategic points along the route — allowing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) the ability to extend access to businesses and residences. This is exactly what the Google Fiber for Communities project is proposing. So we’re actually getting the network to deliver 1 Gbps service and more in the future. The project will also enable Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) to purchase less expensive bandwidth (called “backhaul”), again being able to lower the cost of service and provide much faster access.

You can view the proposed map that the CVNGBIP team sent us initially, but we will provide a link of the final map in about a week. The proposed route had the fiber coming down Hwy 174 from Colfax, but the revised map brings the fiber up from Auburn, so Bear River High School can be on the network. The details of the route have been fully revised, as location of existing infrastructure (sewer pipes, electric lines, cable, etc.) had to be taken into account.

Construction in Nevada County will most likely take place in 2012, although it could start as early as late summer / early fall 2011. Trenches will be dug alongside the roads on the route, and the cable will run in conduit that is buried 48 inches down. According to Federal requirements, the project needs to be at minimum two-thirds completed in August of 2012. The CVNGBIP team is committed to having the network fully up and running as fast as possible.

The CVNGBIP team could have just built the route without local input, since they are being granted access via the California Public Utilities Commission. However, they are choosing to meet with officials in each county that the network will pass through to help determine what will best serve each individual community.

This is a very different scenario than what occurs with AT&T or Comcast. Needless to say, AT&T is furious about the Federal and State dollars that have gone toward independent (and open network) infrastructure, as the projects bring much faster Internet access at a significantly lower wholesale cost to local Internet Service Providers.

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