Fiber route from California's north coast to central valley in line for $42 million subsidy

28 December 2016 by Steve Blum
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Another major middle mile fiber project is queued up for approval at the California Public Utilities Commission. A draft decision that would grant a $42 million subsidy from the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) to the Digital 299 project was published just before the Christmas break and is expected to be up for a vote by commissioners in February. Inyo Networks – the company behind the Digital 395 system and other CASF-funded projects – made the proposal in August 2015.

The project would build a nearly 300 mile fiber optic line west from the Interstate 5 corridor south of Redding, where connections to long haul intercity networks are available, through the mountains of Shasta, Trinity and Humboldt counties along state route 299, to two locations along the Pacific coast, at Eureka and Trinidad. According to the draft resolution

With this project, Inyo plans to: (1) bring ultra-fast and secure broadband backhaul to isolated underserved and unserved communities along the Highway 299 corridor and to those adjacent within a 15-mile distance from the backhaul; (2) establish peering points in Eureka and in the North Sacramento Valley for interconnection with other transport providers to ensure network reliability and improve the quality of educational, government, public safety, and health facilities in the project area; (3) improve cellular data services in a heavily forested, mountainous region;2 and, (4) provide high-speed, last-mile service to the community of Lewiston in Trinity County.

The project includes a small last mile component in Lewiston in Trinity County, where residents will be able to buy a symmetrical gigabit of Internet service for $60 a month, and a discounted 25 Mbps package for $30 per month. The bigger benefit, though, will be to other retail broadband service providers and major institutional users – mostly state, local and tribal agencies – along the route, and to communities along California’s north coast that lack redundant, high speed middle mile connectivity to major Internet exchanges.