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More broadband grants expected this month

Nevada County Fiber Inc. has made “some good progress” in connecting county residents to high speed fiber internet, according to its president Andrew Wilkinson.

Last April the Nevada County Board of Supervisors awarded Nevada County Fiber $124,209 to help connect 25 households in the Red Dog/Banner Quaker Hill Road area to the fiber network as part of its Last Mile Broadband pilot program.

“I’ve got about 9,000 feet of conduit in the ground and one person using it since October as a pilot,” Wilkinson said.



Six more Nevada County households will have high speed fiber internet by the end of this month, according to Wilkinson. The project is broken down into individual phases which, according to its application timeline, could be complete by July.

Wilkinson said he’s applied for the second round of the Last Mile Broadband funding as well.



The Board of Supervisors allocated $250,000 for the second round, whose awardees are expected to be approved by the Board of Supervisors at the end of this month.

Last year the pilot project disbursed just over $177,000 of $225,000 available in funding to two projects meant to connect rural households and businesses to high speed internet. Exwire Inc. was awarded $52,900 for its internet project connecting about 100 customers to high speed internet in eastern Nevada County.

The award process will continue to be overseen by the Sierra Business Council, which last year chose not to disburse about $48,000 in available funding.

The only awardee not to be funded last year was the Northern Sierra Fiber Co-op, a consumer cooperative that would bring underground fiber infrastructure to about 25 businesses and community institutions near Providence Mine Road in Nevada City.

According to the Sierra Business Council, the project was not recommended for funding because the co-op planned to use the money “for planning endeavors instead of developing actual broadband infrastructure.”

However, the council’s grant application states funding may be used for up to 50% of a project’s infrastructure costs, including project planning, permits, testing and engineering.

The $25,000 the cooperative applied for was for half of the project’s engineering costs. The entire project cost more than $900,000.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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