Our fiber-optic internet service may soon be in the hands of a Bay Area provider (where it belongs)

UPDATE:
I asked for and received this document about the sale. It states that Race will use “aerial delivery on existing poles in existing rights-of-ways,” meaning some of the network will be above ground, and it outlines the procedure for protesting the proposed sale. The document is here: Public_Race

“A highly anticipated effort to bring high-speed fiber-optic internet service to the western Nevada County area, funded largely through nearly $17 million in grant money, may soon be in new hands,” The Union is reporting.

“Race Communications, a Bay Area company, has entered negotiations with Spiral Internet CEO John Paul to acquire Bright Fiber, an independent internet service provider in Nevada County that resells internet from wireline providers and has been working on building a new fiber network in the region.

“According to company officials, Race Communications and Bright Fiber have come to an agreement on the terms of the purchase, which are currently pending regulatory approval from the California Public Utilities Commission.”

Lots of unanswered questions in The Union, which dutifully published the press release/statement that was handed to it — but without any scrutiny. And oddly enough, the statement apparently was not made available to any other local media at the same time as The Union, including YubaNet and KNCO. That’s telling. And Podunk. But you can count on A LOT of local scrutiny on this deal.

And no surprise, really. It will take a Bay Area company to deliver high-speed fiber-optic internet service to our community.

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.

11 thoughts on “Our fiber-optic internet service may soon be in the hands of a Bay Area provider (where it belongs)”

  1. AT&T placed fiber optic cable throughout much of the county a few years back…including on the little street I live on…but with no timeline to offer service. It’s a shame that it just sits there, with so much expressed need. How about it AT&T?

    1. My point being that gigabit Internet cables were already in place when Spiral started rallying support for their project…which would initially only serve a relatively few homes. Spiral providing the “last mile” hookups to the customers from the existing fiber cable would have made more sense than trying to dig new trenching and starting from scratch.

      1. Matt, I feel your pain. Unfortunately, the companies typically are more interested in denser demographics than ours. The first thing we did when deciding to buy our home was to make sure we had high-speed internet access in the neighborhood. Otherwise, we couldn’t do our jobs.

  2. Jeff, I am wondering if “there is a there, there.” I was one of those who paid $200 to be an earlier subscriber and promised a low monthly price for fiber to my door.

    Years of poor or no communication from Spiral. Something is strange and I hope someone can shine a light on what is happening. How much of those state grant funds have been spent on Spiral management and overhead.

    Phil

    1. Well, Phil, the first step, something so simple as disseminating a press release/statement to the all of the local media, has failed miserably. An “F.” So there is no information beyond the skimpy reporting in The Union. I would have thought that folks like you, several of whom I’ve heard from, would have been contacted first. That’s called customer service. Here’s the website for this outfit Race Communications: https://www.race.com/. Unlike Comcast or AT&T, there is no media contact. Only a phone number (which no one answered) and a generic email address: careers@race.com or a silly template, if you can imagine that (https://www.race.com/support/contact/). There also is no information on Sprial/Bright Fiber’s website, at least as of now. Spiral, of course, owes the community a BIG EXPLANATION. They helped persuade the BOS to drive down to the CPUC to cheerlead for them (I had that image of Nate and the group driving down in a car), and now it comes to this. Very sad for our community. This outfit seems to serve a hodgepodge of underserved, rural areas in Kern and Mono counties. The list is here: https://www.race.com/coverage/. Too bad. Here we win designations as Cultural Districts, showcasing our arts and culture; one of our schools, Ghidotti, ranks No. 1 in state test scores (https://sierrafoothillsreport.com/2016/08/30/ghidotti-high-school-ranks-1-statewide-on-new-assessment-of-student-performance/) yet we’re STILL WAITING on more rural broadband. I’ll bet the CPUC would like to get this going too, since it agreed to give nearly $17 million in grant money to the project.

  3. I heard from Race Communications and the CPUC this morning and will gladly let people know as more details become available. There is a statement from management floating around at Race Communications of Millbrae (near SFO), and the CPUC confirmed that Race has submitted an acquisition proposal to the regulatory agency. Let’s hope more information is released soon to address concerns like the ones raised by Phil Carville.

  4. To Phil Carville and other readers: Here’s the email I received this morning from the CPUC. I will keep readers’ posted as more details become available, whether a California Public Records Act request is needed, etc. Hoping for as much transparency as possible.

    Hi Jeff,
    We’re checking on availability of copy of Race’s request for approval of acquisition of Bright Fiber.
    In the meantime, I can confirm that CPUC awarded Bright Fiber’s CASF grant in December 2015 and approved its CEQA exemption in May 2017. Bright Fiber has not yet broken ground on the project, nor has the company submitted to the CPUC a payment request.
    On June 20, 2018, Race Telecommunications requested CPUC approval of its proposed purchase of Bright Fiber Networks. The CPUC is currently reviewing the request.

    1. Here’s a response from Spiral at TheUnion.com:
      “Spiral Internet
      Spiral Internet was awarded a $16.2M grant and $500k loan from the California Public Utilities Commission in December 2015 for the Bright Fiber Network project. None of those funds have been touched, as the funding requires a 40% match in private funds first. … Any household that made an advance payment of $119 for the first month of gigabit service will be given that service as promised.”

  5. UPDATE:
    I asked for and received this document about the sale. It states that Race will use “aerial delivery on existing poles in existing rights-of-ways,” meaning some of the network will be above ground, and it outlines the procedure for protesting the proposed sale. The document is here: Public_Race

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s