Thursday, January 22, 2009

New fiber hope?

Posted By on Thu, Jan 22, 2009 at 1:33 PM

Proposed fiber path along Hwy. 299

Proposed fiber path along Hwy. 299

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.

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Ryan Burns

Ryan Burns

Ryan Burns worked for the Journal from 2008 to 2013, covering a diverse mix of North Coast subjects, from education, politics and marijuana to human suspension, sex parties and amateur fight contests. He won awards for investigative reporting, feature stories and news coverage.

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