SBC takes over Gold Country Broadband Consortium

This is from the Sierra Business Council’s March newsletter:

“SBC is excited to begin work on the Gold Country Broadband Consortium. Taking over from SEDCorp, SBC is now the facilitator of a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) grant to launch a public-private partnership aimed at increasing digital access and use in Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Sierra, and eastern Alpine Counties.

“The Gold Country Broadband Consortium (GCBC) is one of 14 regional consortia in the State funded by the California Advanced Services Fund Rural and Urban Regional Broadband Consortia grant program. The Consortium was formed to leverage regional, state and national resources as an investment in improving and expanding broadband access.

“As a triple bottom line organization, SBC sees high speed broadband deployment as vital to the economic development and health of the rural Sierra communities we serve. One of our first steps as facilitator will be to seek public input on internet speed and barriers to broadband in the 5 counties. Stay tuned for more information on how to speed test your internet and provide feedback on internet connectivity issues that may be affecting your home and business.”

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

10 thoughts on “SBC takes over Gold Country Broadband Consortium”

  1. Thanks for posting this Jeff. We are really excited to be working on this project at SBC. There is tremendous synergy between broadband deployment and rural economic development so it fits nicely with our Sierra Small Business Development Center.

    We will be working hard to try to leverage new resources to help companies speed deployment of what is know as ‘last mile’ service that carries signals to and from the home or business. Our goal is to get infrastructure built at the neighborhood level.

    Thanks again.

  2. Wish SBC had been involved sooner. There is a cautionary tale in SEDCorp. on so many levels that no one has investigated or written about. It is over the head of The Union, but The Bee could take it on. I’m afraid it’s too small potatoes for them.

  3. Speed test of landline connections are pretty simple. The link offers one way to try doing that.
    http://beta.speedtest.net/result/6138745048

    When we finally got fed up with ever increasing Comcast bills, $249 per month for the bundle, we switched to AT&T UVerse that comes through the phone lines, about a $145 a month for their bundle. I occasionally download large spatial data files and there isn’t much difference in the time it takes. A speed test for comparing the difference between UVerse and Comcast shows a big difference with numbers, but from the actual performance I’ve seen, its minimal. I’m not a gamer so it might be for them.

    1. I probably don’t approach the requirement for data that you do, and I don’t use a TV (I watch via streaming) but when I lived in NC I was paying around $75 per month for around 12 Mbps and then another $50.00 or so for a landline phone. When I moved to GV I had to switch to Exfinity (Comcast). I am paying (with the first two year discount and rental of the modem) $67.00 and am receiving between 25-30 Mbps including the phone landline…and excellent service.

  4. Out on the San Juan Ridge and 3,8 miles direct line of sight to the Oregon House Peak towers, I;ve used everything, and watched each way in turn slowly go to crappo. Dialup, then ATT copper, then Wild blue dish, then Digital Path. Finally I am with Verizon Hotspot unlimited, and so far it is the best. I did buy the Jetpack wifi hotspot, but my Samsung Galaxy Note Three works nearly as well. I have CBS and HULU for tv for now, but am working on a super antenna to go OTA (over the air). I could care less about up down speeds. If streaming video works on Vimeo, that is all you need to know. I spend a lot of time there and on TED. I am astonished at the amount of good quality instructional video for all manner of household fixit solutions on YouTube. Wait an extra hour for CBS Evening news on CBS.com and it runs straight through, no commercials. My only worry now is, When will Verizon crash with overload the way the rest of them did? Fiber Optic to the Ridge, YES!

    1. Going from analog that allows the signal to move over the terrain to digital (direct line of site) has been a real headache for you Doug. Digital Path is a great company but I wish they can come up with something that can fit your needs.

      1. I couldn’t possibly have a better signal. I can literally see the tower from my house. The problem lies in how much bandwidth Digital Path buys, and they have chosen to be parsimonious in acquiring data to transmit to me, much as the Sat dish internet companies were (and are) in acquiring too many customers to provide decent service. I was a Wildblue tech, installing and aiming dishes, until I understood what was going down.

      2. Thank you for your information Doug. I’m not sure if they are doing any changes to their bandwidth but there is an equipment change out occurring from what I was told

  5. I thought I would give you a brief update on where we are on assuming the duties of the Gold Country Broadband Consortium (GCBC). The project was funded by the California Public Utilities Commission over a 2 year period at a total amount of $300,000.

    First it is important to note that the activities of the GCBC are largely a planning function—to improve deployment, access and adoption of broadband services—in Sierra, Nevada, Placer, El Dorado and eastern Alpine Counties. It is a large geography with some very challenging landscape.

    Broadband is a critical 21st century infrastructure, potentially as important as the deployment of electrical grids once were, and a key enabling technology for economic competiveness, public health and safety, education, promoting sustainable communities, and advancing the technologies necessary to transform our power use and quality of life.

    We know we have a lot of work to do and that in some ways we are playing catch up. I also have to ask for just a little patience—we know people are anxious—but we need a little time to do the planning necessary to ensure we are using the funding for the project in a way that gets the most bang for the buck for our region. No doubt Return On Investment in the form of new capital leveraged is going to be an important metric.

    We have a strong team dedicated to this project and our commitment to the people in the region is that we will do everything we can do to serve the entire geography and bring better service to hard to reach communities.

    One of the first things you will notice over the next several months are dramatically improved web and social media based outreach tools to gather input from the public and direct, regular on-the-ground presence of staff gathering information.

    Our Overarching Objective: Increase quality of service by increasing speed, reliability and redundancy of service, and directly link new projects that meet this goal to existing and new sources of capital. We are working on a plan that will allow us to:

    1. Fully understand the speeds across the geography.
    2. Map and truly understand the needs of existing and potentially new ISP’s both fixed and wireless.
    3. Map and truly understand the needs of all of the customers.
    4. Develop short, medium and long-term plans for deployment.
    5. Identify and advance new projects that can increase speed, reliability and redundancy of service.
    6. Link new projects to capital—state, federal, local, and private—to kick start improvements in service.
    7. Coordinate Broadband deployment with the specific economic development objectives of the jurisdictions within the geography.
    8. Advocate for new sources of capital for deployment.
    9. Measure results to improve opportunities for funding in the future.

    With the work being done under the auspices of the GCBC, added to the other work that Sierra Business Council is doing under separate funding, we will be able to coordinate GCBC activity with the services available through the Sierra Small Business Development Center to provide direct technical assistance to businesses to improve access to capital for business expansion, and with the development of comprehensive economic development strategies in many of the jurisdictions served.

    I hope this helps you understand our role and the path forward.

  6. Thanks Steve. We are Comcast customers in Nevada City and Suddenlink customers in Tahoe City — benefitting from being connecting to two cable-modem networks. We depend on these networks for our business, not just pleasure. We are the lucky ones, though it doesn’t come without interruptions and numerous calls to “customer service.” It is imperative that broadband be a top priority in our region, not just to grow but to keep up with the Joneses.

    My concern all along has been the lack of execution on this initiative (“all hat and no cattle”). The past incompetence (in my mind at least) should be investigated, but it also is water under the bridge. The most important thing is to light a fire under this initiative ASAP. I am more confident with SBC at the helm.

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