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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Kansas City Gigabit City Summit Conference

Hello Nevada County! My name is Nick Katzman. I’m the new Neighborhood Coordinator for Spiral, and you’ll be hearing from me often here on our blog.

I recently had the pleasure of joining the Spiral management team on a trip to Kansas City where we attended the Gigabit City Summit. It was a 3 day long adventure of exploring the city and learning about current and emerging Gigabit Cities. We also had the opportunity to network with innovative teams like ours that are in various stages of building and implementing fiber optic networks all across the country.

Heavy fog and rain covered the city as people from across the country gathered in the Student Union at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. The top floor of that impressive building was abuzz with introductions as folks exchanged business cards and received conference itineraries.

Welcoming us to the conference were past and current Mayors of Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas who told us of the dramatic changes their communities have experienced since becoming the first Google fiber cities. The economic development of Kansas City was clear to us as we toured the bustling city streets. Tech startups and incubator projects established themselves among the commercial and residential districts; utilizing the tremendous bandwidth of Google Fiber. By the way, if you ever find yourself in Kansas City, you need to eat at Q39. It was hands-down the best barbecue I’ve ever tasted.

At the conference, I bounced between lecture halls and conference rooms searching for strategies on different ways to utilize the effectiveness of a fiber network on a community level. The Spiral team and I listened to a variety of city officials, engineers, lawyers, and project managers describing what it takes to successfully supervise a large scale fiber optic buildout. This information was important to the management team, but I was more intrigued by the presentations regarding how customers could use a gigabit connection and what tools could be made available to them.

One of the highlights for me was hearing from Alan Fitzpatrick, the co-founder of an organization that constructed a fiber optic network in Charlotte, North Carolina called Charlotte Hearts Gigabit. His company hosts regular classes on using electronic devices effectively and how to install and use important apps and software. They even hold hackathons on a regular basis during which computer programmers collaborate intensively on creating new software over a brief period of time.

I would love your feedback on whether Spiral should implement these kinds of classes and events locally. I encourage you to respond to this post and let me know if you think they would be worthwhile in Nevada County and if you would be interested in attending.

I picked up some great ideas from this informative conference which I plan to implement as we move towards initiating the first stages of our network build. If you have not already done so, please register at www.spiral.com/fiber to discover where your residence is located in relation to our coverage maps and also to receive email updates regarding our progress. As always, thank you for your support!

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