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‘Neighborhood champions’ of high-speed internet service vie for sign-ups

“Neighborhood champions” for the Spiral Internet project are vying to have the most people sign up for the high-speed service, a race to get their area connected first.

The project remains on schedule to have some of its first customers online around late spring, and everyone in its first construction zone connected within two years of breaking ground. The entire project, which includes three zones across rural Nevada County, is scheduled for completion in five years, said John Paul, CEO of Spiral Internet.

“We’ve got about 250 people signed up,” Paul added.

The project’s first zone, a 26-square-mile area that includes portions of Highway 174 and Dog Bar Road, has dozens of people working to get their neighbors registered for the gigabit internet connection. The area with the most registrations could be connected around that time.

A tally of the competing neighborhoods is available at http://www.spiral.com/fiber. At the website people can map their home to determine which, if any, project zone they’re in.

Spiral Internet, which received $16.7 million in state funds for the project’s first stage, has one more hurdle before it can break ground.

The Nevada City company hopes to forego the full requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act by proving its project won’t significantly impact the environment. Spiral Internet hired someone to create a report that’s since been submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission.

If the report is accepted — expected in 6 to 8 weeks — the project would then proceed, Paul said.

“That report looks pretty thorough,” he added.

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

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