Locals urge CPUC to close eastern California fiber gap

by Steve Blum • , , , , , ,

Hard to connect.

Mono County officials have come out in full support of giving another $10 million to the Digital 395 middle mile project, which would link Mono, Inyo and eastern Kern counties to major fiber hubs. Top elected officials – the board of supervisors and the sheriff – sent letters to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), as did the county administrator.

All three letters echoed the same themes: Mono and Inyo Counties would be hurt by having the fiber network split into disconnected northern and southern halves, and the loss of service to communities in the gap, particularly June Lake, would be damaging. As supervisor chair Byng Hunt put it…

Without a continuous network between Barstow and Carson City, the overall value of Digital 395 is greatly diminished. Not only would this divide the County into two pieces (with the western portion being served from Carson City and the eastern being served from Barstow), but also pose significant concerns regarding redundancy and quality of service.

The letters also highlighted county contributions to the project, which were valued at $300,000 and include staff time and waived fees.

CPUC staff have recommended transferring the money to the project from the California Advanced Services Fund, which has already contributed $19 million out of a total of about $100 million, with most of the rest coming from the 2009 federal stimulus program. The cost overruns are primarily blamed on an arduous governmental approval process.

The commission is scheduled to consider a resolution approving the extra money at its 5 September 2013 meeting, although it’s possible the vote could be bumped to a later date.