The fiber scramble continues.
The strangest thing about the various efforts to bring a redundant broadband fiber to Humboldt County is how new plans just seem to pop up out of nowhere. Virtually everyone is in agreement these days that a second fiber optic cable is vital to our community's ability to function in the 21st Century. Coming up with a viable business model, however, has proved elusive.
A company by the name of Broadband Associates International, Inc. is the latest player on the field, having just landed approval for almost $8 mil in state funding via the California Advanced Services Fund. That's 40 percent of the total price tag of the project -- $19.5 million -- and local players are already questioning how Broadband Associates plan to come up with the other $12 mil.
If their plan proves viable (and for now that "if" remains large), not only would it provide a broadband safety net to those North Coasters who subscribe to their service (in addition to AT&T's existing line -- gotta have both!), it may also allow for "last mile" broadband access in such un- or under-served communities as Willow Creek, Salyer, Burnt Ranch, Big Bar and Weaverville.
According to Broadband Associates' Web site , the company was "founded by a team of highly experienced education professionals and telecom experts from AT&T Broadband." Could that explain why AT&T seemed hesitant to sign on to another approach? Stay tuned.
UPDATE : Willits Online also received CASF funding approval -- $54,000 to bring broadband to Laytonville. Again, this amount is 40 percent of the total project cost -- in this case, $135,000.
CORRECTION : While virtually everyone is in agreement that redundant broadband is needed on the North Coast, not everyone agrees that the method must be a second fiber. Microwave technology could provide an alternative.