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New Fiber Connection Brings High-Speed Connectivity to Lassen and Plumas Counties

Final connections are being made in construction of Plumas-Sierra Telecom’s 188-mile fiber optic network, designed to bring high-speed internet and data connectivity to rural areas in Lassen and Plumas counties. The grant-funded project, when completed, will be the core communications infrastructure for the region and serve the area with a secure, vital link to the outside world.

Plumas Sierra Telecom technicians string new fiber optic cables near Johnstonville

The three-year project to bring a fiber connection to northeastern California is a joint collaborative effort of several partners within the region including PST and the Plumas County Office of Education with assistance from the Center of Economic Development and California State University Chico.

Why is this important to folks in our area? Fiber optics are faster, lighter, thinner, secure, efficient, require less energy and are virtually undisturbed by environmental conditions. Not to mention fast – really fast.

The Mid-Mile Fiber Project is funded with 80% American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant funds, 10% California Advanced Services Fund and a 10% in-kind contribution by Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative.

“Plumas-Sierra is pleased to be a part of this historic event for our region,” said the company’s Major Accounts Manager Roxanna Haynes, “In 1937 Plumas-Sierra REC was started as a result of local residents forming a cooperative and with guidance and funding through the Rural Electrification Administration they brought electricity to our rural area forgotten by the large electric companies.”

By 1950, more than one million miles of electric lines, financed by REA, had been energized and more than 75% of America’s farms and rural communities were electrified.

“A not so subtle resemblance,” adds Haynes, “1937’s need for electricity and phone and the 2012 need for adequate broadband. This project is an undertaking that will yield a positive outcome for our local communities and future generations.”

In July Plumas Sierra Telecom and local infrastructure partner Zito Media went before the Lassen County Board of Supervisors to offer a free 50MB service to the Veterans Memorial Building using Zito Media’s ethernet service. The connection will provide an open Wi-Fi service throughout the building so the community and veterans can experience the speed of 50MB service.

Mike Stark, Veterans Service Representative for Lassen County, is enthusiastic about the new connection at the Memorial Hall, “We really appreciate having a fast reliable internet connection here in the building.”

The improved service allows veterans to bring in a tablet or laptop and view benefit and employment info from their own device through the Wi-Fi connection.

Veterans Service Representative Mike Stark

Veteran Services will now be able to effectively share online resources with local veterans, including information on housing, employment and medical benefits. Additionally the Memorial Building will now be able to offer Wi-Fi as an added benefit to the rental of the facility.

This is at no expense to Lassen County or the City of Susanville; Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications and Zito Media sponsor this hotspot jointly.

Final-mile connectivity has been established by PST to what the grant refers to as ‘anchor tenants’ whose participation made the network build-out possible. Here in Lassen County those anchor tenants include Lassen College, Lassen County Office of Education, California Correctional Center, High Desert State Prison, Sierra Army Depot, Susanville Indian Rancheria in Herlong, Herlong High School and Lassen Union High School.

What other benefits do we gain by having a fast, reliable connection to the outside world?

“We also have been working with Verizon to upgrade the bandwidth at all of their cell sites in Lassen and Plumas County,” explains Haynes, “The infrastructure we are providing Verizon will allow them in the future to offer long-term evolution, otherwise known as LTE, the current standard for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones.”

The grant funded project put more than 188 miles of fiber through Lassen and Plumas counties


Jeremy Couso
Jeremy Couso Publisher/Editor
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