Fiber optics arrive

Bright orange conduit contains fiber optic cable.

Faster speeds ahead on the Internet superhighway

Calaveras County residents will be moving a lot faster, at least when it comes to using the Internet, once the installation of a fiber optic cable is completed next year.

Over the past few weeks, most county residents have seen giant spinning blades carve trenches in country roadways making space for bright orange conduit to be laid deep beneath the surface.

That conduit will house a modern fiber optic cable, which can contain thousands of fibers, capable of transferring thousands of gigabytes per second, which will provide bandwidth to Calaveras County never seen before.

Calaveras is only one small part of a much a larger project, which encompasses 18 counties covering 39,530 square miles, 24 percent of the state’s geography and a population of more than 4 million people, according to the Central Valley Next-Generation Broadband Infrastructure Project website.

The project is funded by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act federal stimulus dollars designated to increase broadband network access, particularly to underserved and unserved areas.

Teaming up with the project to complete the work is the Central Valley Independent Network.

“It’s great stuff,” said Tom Garcia, director of Calaveras County Public Works. “They’re bringing fiber optic line connection through the Gold Country from Merced to Auburn.”

The main focus of the project is to connect schools and libraries to the main Internet hubs in the Valley, Garcia said.

Project managers chose to run the lines on county roadways instead of working with Cal Trans, which can be more difficult, Garcia said.

“Working with Caltrans is hard,” he continued. “All the cutting and paving you see is pretty much done on encroachment permit with the county.”

Two new hubs will be built in Calaveras County – one at the County Office of Education in Angels Camp and the other near the Calaveras County Government Center in San Andreas.

Along with connecting 19 offices of education, the project plans to link 14 community college sites, three California State University campuses, 20 county main libraries and seven public safety sites.

To give readers an idea of the vast improvement the new cable will bring, Howard Stohlman, chief information officer and director of technology services for Calaveras County used the Calaveras County Library as an example, which is going from 10 megabytes to 1 gigabyte.

“The library will have a 100-fold increase in available bandwidth in Internet,” Stohlman said. “That’s huge.”

Schools will also get a significant bandwidth bump, and the county government center will be linked into the system as well, Stohlman said.

Just because fiber optic cable has finally come to Calaveras County doesn’t mean the general public will be able to immediately purchase more bandwidth.

“I wish it was going to make San Andreas residents instantly be able to get more bandwidth, but that’s not the intent of the project,” Stohlman said.

“The project will bring fiber optic wholesale backbone access to Calaveras County,” he continued. “This is what’s called a middle mile project. It’s more about infrastructure; the last mile is delivery to the customer.”

That last mile will have to be picked up by local Internet service providers.

“The real benefit is ISPs will be able to afford getting an Internet connection at a reasonable price,” Stohlman said, adding it has been very expensive to get adequate bandwidth to Calaveras in the past.

The construction phase of the project should be complete within a month.

For more information about the project call 559-442-6010 ext. 105, visit cvngbip.org/ or email info@cvin.com.

 Contact Joel Metzger at joel@calaverasenterprise.com

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