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Gigabit fiber optic network for rural Nevada County nears vote of California Public Utilities Commission

Alan Riquelmy
Staff Writer

contact the commission

Michael Picker: michael.picker@cpuc.ca.gov

Mike Florio: mike.florio@cpuc.ca.gov

Catherine Sandoval: catherine.sandoval@cpuc.ca.gov

Carla Peterman: carla.peterman@cpuc.ca.gov

Liane Randolph: liane.randolph@cpuc.ca.gov

A high-speed gigabit Internet network for rural Nevada County hinges on a Dec. 3 vote of the California Public Utilities Commission.

The project, the first stage of which would provide a fiber optic network for almost 2,000 homes, depends on $16.8 million in grant funding from CPUC. If granted, as recommended by CPUC staff, Spiral Internet would build a network that covers a 21-square-mile imprint along Highway 174 and Dog Bar Road.

“It’s a good project,” said Steve Monaghan, director of Nevada County’s Information and General Services Department. “It’ll help in a lot of different areas.”

The network will serve homes, businesses, schools and public safety facilities.

Monaghan noted that increased high-speed Internet service is the top goal of the county’s Economic Resource Council, which more than two years ago asked its members to name their priorities.

“It’s job employment to economic development to entertainment to home security to health care to education for kids,” Monaghan said. “It really touches all aspects of our lives.”

CPUC staff has submitted a resolution to the commission recommending the grant’s approval. John Paul, CEO of Spiral Internet/Bright Fiber Network Inc., has asked for the public to send emails in support of the project to CPUC.

“We’re going to be the first in rural California,” Paul said. “We’re incredibly excited. It’s finally happening.”

Paul said he intends to expand into other parts of Nevada County, applying for future grants to fund projects that would reach some 11,000 homes. He expects the complete project would take five years to construct.

Spiral Internet has worked on the project for the past three years. It submitted in February 2013 its grant application for a gigabit fiber optic Internet network.

The commission in May voted to approve a certification of public convenience and necessity, which gives right-of-way access for the project.

The next step is the Dec. 3 vote.

According to Monaghan, if the grant is approved, then Spiral Internet would proceed with getting the required permitting for the project.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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