Tweaks made to Bright Fiber plan: Fiber optic network will be both above, below ground (DOCUMENTS)
Bright Fiber’s high-speed fiber optic network will be both above and below ground, a change from the project’s initial plan to rest primarily underground.
A June 20 advice letter — a document that’s part of the sale of Bright Fiber to Race Communications — states that Race will use its standard approach of “aerial delivery on existing poles in existing rights-of-ways.”
Anyone who wants to protest the proposed sale has until Tuesday to contact the outside regulatory counsel, as well as Bright Fiber and Race.
The advice letter also states that Bright Fiber has no customers, which means no public notice is required.
John Paul, CEO of Spiral Internet/Bright Fiber, said a customer is someone with an active connection.
Race has said it’s hoping for the sale to occur at the end of this month, pending approval of the California Public Utilities Commission.
Commission staff is reviewing the advice letter, said Christopher Chow, a public information officer with the utilities board, in an email.
Paul, who plans on selling Bright Fiber to Race, said there’s no reason to challenge the sale.
“It’s quicker,” Paul said of the network’s above-ground installation plan. “It’s faster. It’ll get done quicker.”
Paul in December 2015 received almost $17 million in state funds for the gigabit high-speed network. A resolution awarding the grant states that the network’s fiber would rest primarily underground.
Paul said he opted for burying the fiber because of the above-ground installation costs. He was told that if he used utility poles, he’d bear the cost of replacing any degraded poles — $2,000 each — in the project’s 26-square-mile area.
“Race, however, has figured this out,” Paul said. “There will be some places where it’ll be built underground.”
Tim Corkins, interim executive director of the county’s Economic Resource Council, said he has no problems with portions of the network being above ground. Emphasizing that he doesn’t have all the answers, Corkins said Race will place fiber underground where it can and use utility poles in other spots.
Ally Hetland, with Race, said in an email the fiber’s placement will depend on the geography and topography across the service area.
The advice letter states Race intends to provide the promised high-speed connection and pricing.
“The Bright Fiber broadband project as approved by the California (Public Utilities Commission) will remain the same,” Hetland said. “It will serve the same project area at the same broadband speeds approved in the PUC Resolution.”
In May 2017 Paul said the project’s first phase along Highway 174 and Dog Bar Road included some 2,900 homes and 340 businesses.
Those interested in having the service have paid $119 — the cost of the first month’s bill. Paul on Friday declined to say how many people have signed up and paid.
Race must fulfill an original requirement of the grant: that Bright Fiber acquire 40 percent of the project’s cost in private investment. Paul has said issues in securing some $12 million in private dollars led him to sell Bright Fiber to Race.
The proposed sale price is undisclosed.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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