Last week, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved over $8 million between two Nevada County broadband projects for Race Telecommunications, Inc., and Nevada County Fiber, connecting 527 additional Nevada County homes to high-speed internet (or “broadband”) in District 1. Nevada County Supervisor Ed Scofield, Nevada County Chief Information Officer Steve Monaghan, and Nevada County Superintendent of Schools representative Andrea Marks all spoke in support of these projects that will bring more reliable connectivity to Nevada County. “Reliable and experienced service providers are critical to our success on this objective. It is very exciting to see local providers expanding their service areas in our community. Gaining access to 1-Gbs Internet service is truly transformative for our residents and businesses,” says Nevada County Chief Information Officer Steve Monaghan.
“We’ve made progress expanding high-speed internet to underserved communities through grants, strategic partnerships and making it easier for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to build networks in our county, but it is an ongoing process,” says Supervisor Scofield.
“From working with providers to advocating at the state and federal level, this is a priority. Rural connectivity is a complex issue that can’t be addressed with one simple strategy, agreement, or grant. We’re not done advocating for our residents and are working on ambitious goals for 2022,” adds Supervisor Heidi Hall.
Broadband became a standalone Board Objective in 2021, seeing the benefits broadband will bring to support economic development, distance-learning, telework, telemedicine, and general quality of life in Nevada County. The Board of Supervisors adopted Nevada County’s Broadband Strategy in October 2019 in partnership with Sierra Business Council.
Providing universal and equal broadband (internet) services in sparsely populated rural areas is a major challenge for our local service providers. In 2019, Nevada County established the Last Mile Grant Program, focusing on completing broadband connections from existing provider infrastructure to residents’ homes.
“Simply put, we look for every opportunity to get fast, reliable internet delivered to each household. We know how frustrating it can be for many residents to know service is so close but not actually attainable. The best way to approach this is collaboratively, and we welcome partnerships from seasoned tech professionals to neighborhood organizers. Everyone doing their part really makes a difference.” adds Monaghan.
The National Association of Counties (NACo) has recognized the grant program as an innovative, effective county government program. Nevada County has awarded $675,000 grant dollars to date. Nevada County is conducting a Countywide Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to meaningfully address challenges and remove barriers for project developers. The ultimate goal is to increase the feasibility of universal and accessible broadband throughout Nevada County by achieving compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Residents are encouraged to stay up to date on significant broadband news items by signing up for the Nevada County Newsletter at www.mynevadacounty.com/nevadacountynews. Those with questions, concerns, or opportunities to bring service to underserved areas should connect via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.