by Ryan Burns
That's right, folks. Just in time for Christmas, Humboldt County now has a back-up umbilical for all of our technology babies, including credit and debit card machines and Internet-based communications, which have become virtually indispensable for everything from medical care to law enforcement, education and business. Plus, high-speed Internet will now be available in such rural communities as Bridgeville, Mad River and Wildwood.
Read the press release from IP Networks below:
It was announced today that IP Networks has completed the installation of 131 miles of high-speed internet fiber through Humboldt and Trinity County along the Highway 36 corridor. The project provides long-needed redundant broadband fiber for much of Humboldt County, while also enabling service to a number of previously un-served and under-served communities in Eastern Humboldt and Southern Trinity counties.
"This has been a top-priority project for our two counties" said Mark Lovelace, Chair of both the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors and the Redwood Region Economic Development Corporation (RREDC). "Reliable, redundant broadband is critical to economic and community development here on the Redwood Coast."
Judy Morris, Chair of the Trinity County Board of Supervisors, said "The lack of broadband service has put our remote, rural communities at a severe economic disadvantage. This project provides essential communications infrastructure for some of these remote, rural areas."
IP Networks worked with Pacific Gas and Electric Company to install fiber-optic cable on PG&E's poles and towers. The route follows PG&E's existing right-of-way from the Cottonwood sub-station near Redding, through both the Six Rivers and Shasta-Trinity National Forests, to Eureka and the Humboldt Bay area.
"PG&E feels very fortunate to be a partner on a project with such far reaching benefits for the community" said Brandi Ehlers of PG&E. "It took a strong team to complete this crucial piece of the line and we're very pleased it's done."
With the fiber-optic cable installed, local internet service providers including Suddenlink will now be able to provide their customers with the security and reliability of a redundant broadband connection to protect against outages and interruptions.
"Last-mile" service to residents and businesses along the route will be provided by 101 Netlink, a North Coast wireless high speed internet provider. 101 Netlink will now be able to connect several un-served and under-served communities along the way including Wildwood, Mad River, Ruth and Bridgeville, offering service to 527 rural households over a 218 square-mile area with speeds up to 4Mbps download and 1.5Mbps upload.
101 Netlink's Seth Johannesen said "We're pleased to be able to offer true high-speed service to some of the most rural communities in Humboldt and Trinity counties."
Mary-Lou Smulders, Vice President of Strategies and Implementation for IP Networks, thanked the many partners that helped make the project happen. "We couldn't have done this without strong support from all of our fabulous partners in Humboldt and Trinity counties. The counties, PG&E, 101 Netlink, RREDC, the California Center for Rural Policy, Redwood Coast Connect, our customers and vendors and so many others have been there every step of the way to help with project design, planning, funding, permits and implementation."
Connie Stewart, Executive Director of the California Center for Rural Policy, said "The Redwood Coast region is sparsely populated and has lots of rugged terrain, which makes installing fiber optics challenging and expensive. There are more rural communities out there that still need high speed internet and we all look forward to getting them served too."
Significant internet disruptions in December 2006 and January 2007 carried serious impacts to businesses, retailers and education, as well as potentially life-threatening impacts to healthcare, law enforcement and aviation. Those outages focused attention on the need for broadband redundancy and prompted a series of studies and route concepts.
Gregg Foster, Executive Director of RREDC, thanked the many partners who worked early on to move this issue forward, including Tina Nerat, Susan Estrada, Patrick Cleary and the Redwood Technology Consortium. "This has been a team effort from the start, and couldn't have been done without the support of so many dedicated individuals over so many years" he said.
The total cost for the project is $14,383,101, of which $5,753,240 was provided by the California Advance Services Fund (CASF) as a 40% match.