Digital 395 fiber draws a last mile crowd in eastern California

Faster residential and business broadband service – including gigabit-class fiber-to-the-home service in some communities – is following in the wake of the Digital 395 project, an open access middle mile fiber link from Reno down through eastern California to Barstow. The California Public Utilities Commission just approved a $4.7 million grant proposed by Race Telecommunications to build FTTH systems in four small Mono County communities using the Digital 395 backbone.

The areas around Aspen Springs, Chalfant, Crowley Lake and Sunny Slopes should see upgraded service in the next couple of years. Race is committing to offering residential service at set rates for at least 2 years, starting at $25 per month for 25 Mbps down and 15 Mbps up and ranging to $150 per month for 1 Gbps down and 100 Mbps up. The commercial rate card is higher – $60 for 25/15 and $200 for 100/50 – but the same, the resolution says, as what Race charges at the Mojave Spaceport, another CASF-funded project.

Two other project proposals, also leveraging Digital 395 connectivity, had been been submitted by Schat Communications, an Internet service provider based in Bishop, but were ultimately turned down by the commission. Schat asked for a combination of grants and loans from the California Advanced Services Fund totalling $3.8 million to build a WiMAX network, with fiber links to Digital 395, over a wider area of Mono and Inyo Counties, including the areas sought by Race.

Last year, the CPUC awarded CASF grants to Race for FTTH projects in Boron and the Tehachapi area. Two other proposals, for California City and Mojave, were pulled after Charter Communications upgraded its network in those communities.

The Race projects aren’t the first to take advantage of Digital 395. The bandwidth delivered by that system was quickly leveraged by SuddenLink last year, when it boosted speeds – up to ten-times – for existing customers in Mammoth Lakes at no extra charge.