An Overview of Current Broadband Deployment in Nevada County

Federally Funded Projects

In early 2010, two broadband projects were funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that will have impact in Nevada County.

(1) The Central Valley Next-Generation Broadband Infrastructure Project

This $66M project provides a redundant fiber-optic backbone that goes through 18 counties including western Nevada County. 80% of the project is funded by ARRA via the Department of Commerce ($46.6M), 10% by the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) via the California Public Utilities Commission, and 10% privately by the 8 rural telephone companies that comprise the Central Valley Independent Network (now operating as Vast Networks). The project is currently in construction within Nevada County (February 2013).

The project is providing “last-mile” 1 Gbps (Gigabit per second) symmetrical speed connections for Bear River High School, Nevada Union High School, Madelyn Helling Library, and Pleasant Valley School. It will also provide open access “backhaul” to local ISPs, so they can provide ultra high speed “last-mile” service to homes and businesses.

Expected completion date: Summer 2013 . WebsiteARRA project progress link

(2) The SmarterBroadband Project

This fixed wireless project was funded by ARRA via the Department of Agriculture in the amount of a $1.87M grant and a $625k loan. The project will upgrade SmarterBroadband’s existing wireless network and expand their service with new towers in the Tyler Foote Road (“Ridge”) area, and in parts of south county.

Expected completion date: Fall 2015 . WebsiteARRA project progress link


New California Public Utilities Commission Funding for Broadband
Once the ARRA funding ended, and many other California-submitted projects were not funded by the Federal stimulus program, those California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) matching monies were returned to that “pot”. In 2011, The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) enacted two resolutions to help bring broadband into needed areas in the state using these monies.

CASF is funded by each household/business that has telephone service. If you look on your phone bill, you’ll currently see about 14¢ per month for CASF;  that will be raised to a little over 16¢ per month this summer.

(1) The CPUC provided funding for Regional Consortia to be formed to “aggregate broadband need, educate the populace, and help launch broadband projects”, and (2) they raised the amount of CASF monies for broadband projects to 70% of a project budget for “unserved” areas, and 60% of a project budget for “underserved” areas. The CPUC cites that if an area has access to less than 6 Mbps download speeds and 1.5 Mbps upload speeds, then it is considered “underserved”.

Overview about Regional Consortia (provided by Tellus Venture Associates)

Gold Country Broadband Consortium

Locally, Brent Smith of the Sierra Economic Development Corporation (SEDCorp) proposed that his organization would be the “lead agency” of a Gold Country Broadband Consortium that would cover Sierra, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, and eastern Alpine counties. Nevada County was integral in soliciting local letters of support for the Consortium’s funding. There was a “competing” application in El Dorado county, but that was declined. In March 2012, SED Corp was funded in the amount of $150k annually for up to a 3-year period (to be reviewed annually).

Each of the consortia operates differently depending on the needs of its location. The Gold Country Broadband Consortium has hosted a number of public quarterly meetings, and some neighborhood meetings with local Internet Service Providers. A Nevada County event was hosted by and in conjunction with the Nevada County Broadband Advisory Group (see below). The Consortium has not had an organizational meeting of its membership to date, and has not requested input on its plan or operation from its membership. The CPUC cites consortia members as those organizations that appear on the Consortium’s grant application. In Nevada County, those members include the following:

Acton Arboriculture
City of Nevada City
Nevada City School District
Nevada County Board of Supervisors
Nevada County Economic Resource Council
Nevada County Superintendent of Schools
North San Juan Fire Protection
One Stop Business and Career Center
Skywest Broadband
Spiral Internet
Truckee Donner Recreations and Park District

Expected completion date: March 2015 . CPUC Resolution (PDF) . Action Plan (PDF) . Website

Spiral Internet’s Nevada County Connected Project

This 100% fiber to the home project applied for California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) monies during the current round of that program’s “underserved” areas funding, submitting on Feb 1, 2013. The project will encompass 26 square miles, connecting 3,214 premises, and consist of 150 miles of construction. Each premise passed will have the capacity for symmetrical 1 Gbps (Gigabit per second) Internet access speeds. The project will utilize the middle-mile infrastructure and help fulfill the last-mile connection goals of the ARRA and CASF-funded Central Valley Next-Generation Broadband Infrastructure Project. The project is requesting a $16.6M grant / $500k loan.

Expected completion date, if funded: Summer 2015 . Website . CASF Proposed Project List


Nevada County Broadband Advisory Group

The Nevada County Economic Resource Council had acted as an umbrella for a Telecommunications Committee for over 9 years until it dissolved in 2008, with only Chip Carman (Spiral Internet) and Steve Monaghan (Nevada County CIO) comprising its final membership. In July of 2011, Spiral Internet initiated the restart of this group in Nevada County by meeting with Supervisor Terry Lamphier and County CIO Steve Monaghan. Out of this initial meeting sprung the Nevada County Broadband Advisory Group with the following active members:

• Steve Monaghan, CIO, Nevada County
• Terry Lamphier, District 3 Supervisor, Nevada County
• Lisa Swarthout, Council Member, City of Grass Valley
• Robert Bergman, Council Member, City of Nevada City
• Curtis Smith, Director of Technology & Information Systems, Nevada Joint Union High School District
• Michael Kane, Associate Dean, Sciences and Mathematics, Sierra College
• Rorie Lin Gotham, Community Representative, Town of Washington
• Robert Bergman, Chair, Nevada County Economic Resource Council
• Steve Frisch, President, Sierra Business Council
• Michael Anderson, President, Clientworks
• John Paul, CEO, Spiral Internet
• Chip Carman, CTO, Spiral Internet
• Adam Brodel, President & CEO, SmarterBroadband
• Devin Koch, CEO, exWire

The immediate focus of the group is to compile a “Nevada County Broadband Plan” based on the “National Broadband Plan” with a completion set for Summer 2013. The group is also planning to make recommendations for revisions/additions to county and city code to help facilitate construction of faster broadband Internet access.

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10 comments to An Overview of Current Broadband Deployment in Nevada County

  • Just an update, Sierra Business Council with Steve Frisch as the representative, is an active member of this group also.

  • My apologies Steve. We’ve updated that posting.

  • Jeff Glover

    Just wanted to express my frustration with the lack of service in my area of Rough and Ready, (the last mile of Rough and Ready Road) Comcast will not allow cable hook ups, though their fiber optic cable crosses my property.
    A phone repairman told me that AT&T will “never” replace my section of phone line with product capable of DSL service.
    I tried a Verizon mobile broadband hotspot,no such luck.
    I am outside the service area of the other wireless broadband providers.
    So I am stuck with Hughesnet, or dialup, when people who live less than a mile from me in 3 directions are either on cable or have DSL.

  • Parts of Rough & Ready, as much of western Nevada County which does not have DSL, never will have DSL. AT&T has stopped deployment across the country. Although your area is not part of our first phase of bringing 100% fiber to the home here, it is in our plans. Two things you can do in the short term, please fill out our Broadband Survey — then give us a call at 478-9822. We’ll see if there is any provider that can currently reach you.

  • Bob Garza

    My address is 12775 Old Forrest Ranch Rd, Penn Valley CA 95946. County maps sometimes show property as 12775 Forest Ranch Rd, PV CA 95946. Also 12775 Forrest Ranch Rd. I know but it’s just the way it is.

    We currently use SmarterBroadBand fixed wireless.

    Please let us know what other providers are available for our location. We seem to be caught in a bit of a black hole in terms of broadband, close to at&t and Comcast but not close enough.


  • We checked the coverage map and DigitalPath also offers fixed wireless service at your location. (By the way, Google Earth has your address correctly.) They are the only fixed wireless provider that offers unlimited data here. Spiral is their authorized representative in Nevada County. More info and pricing on the Spiral Internet website. The first phase of our 100% fiber optic project is in south county, but your neighborhood is adjacent to the Central Valley Next-Generation Broadband Infrastructure Project route. These adjacent areas will be ones that we are looking at for future development, but not for 3 or 4 years at the earliest. Keep posted. And thanks for your inquiry.

  • Basil Hugueley

    I live in Cole Country Estates and only have dial up service. I noticed that the fiber project went out Wolf road and turned to go across Duggans. why did it not continue out Wolf and Garden Bar. My Son live out off of Perimeter Rd. They also did not continue out Mc Courtney to perimeter. Can you supply me with a map that shows the coverage that will be forth coming from the current project. I have been living out here for 25 years and seriously need broadband. Please provide me some good news. My connection is slow and I would like broadband before I die.

    Thanks Basil

  • Hi Basil. The fiber optic project that you are seeing built is — what is termed — a “middle mile” network. This means that it brings a big pipeline into the 18 counties it is going through, including Nevada County. This project will not be bringing — what is termed — “last mile” connections directly to homes and businesses. The good news is that it brings an alternative to Comcast and AT&T’s infrastructure, which can be very pricey to access for other providers like Spiral Internet. Give our office a call at 478-9822 and we can tell you what is currently available, and when it might improve in the near future.

  • Lee Steever

    They are currently laying fiber optics along Magnolia Rd. to Bear River High School and from what I’ve heard there are no plans to go any farther. I live approximately 1.5 miles from Bear River, by road, on Salada Ct. and my only access to broadband is by satelite by Wild Blue which is very expensive. Do I have any other options as neither AT&T or Verizon can help.

  • The fiber optic cables that are being installed along Magnolia Road are part of the Vast Networks middle-mile infrastructure deployment. No last-mile service to homes or businesses will be provided by this American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funded project. In the short term, give us a call (Spiral Internet 478-9822) and we can let you know if you can be served by DigitalPath — a fixed wireless provider.

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