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Official says new system must be tested first
Although there have been delays on some sections of the Digital 395 high speed broadband fiber installation project, a Suddenlink representative said Wednesday that vastly improved broadband speed for its customers is expected after the Digital 395 infrastructure is in place at the end of the month—but he could not give an exact date for the service.
“Michael Ort (Digital 395 is being built by Ort’s company, Praxis Associates) assured me yesterday that the infrastructure will be in place to service Mammoth between July 22 and Aug. 1,” said Pete Abel, a public information officer with the company on Wednesday.
“Our hesitancy in committing to an exact date is that we really need to wait for Praxis to complete their project, then we have to test the system to be sure it works. The last thing we want to do is promise the high speeds and then have it not be there.”
“There should be some relief for Mammoth around the first of the month,” said Ort, speaking Tuesday to the Mono County Board of Supervisors.
Communities south and east of Mammoth will have to wait a little longer however, he said.
“We hope to get it done by the end of August, beginning of September,” he said.
“I had to hold the throttle for the last 1.5 months,” he said. “We were moving along fast, but we had to pull back. We have all the permits we need, except for from the Inyo National Forest, for an area near Casa Diablo and the Crowley Lake dam.”
June Lake and possibly some other communities north of Mammoth will also have to wait for service due to other challenges, such as having to bore through solid rock to get to June Lake.
Verizon, the other major “last mile” broadband provider on the Eastside, did not return calls by press time regarding its involvement with Digital 395.
The 583-mile-long high speed fiber optic project has a federally set deadline of July 31, but delays associated with protecting and mitigating the project’s impact to Native American cultural sites and some wildlife issues have created a few short “gaps” along the backbone that will not be completed before that date, Ort said.
The delays and higher-than-expected costs for environmental mitigation have also pushed the $101 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project over its budget by several million dollars, as Ort said in an article in the July 4 issue of the Times (p. 16, “Digital 395 chief says project mostly on track for July 31”) but he said the project will be completed, and that he is expecting a decision from the state to fund some of the gap.
The archeological issues must be worked through according to legal requirements, said Diana Pietresanta, the recreation officer for the Inyo National Forest.
“The Archeological Resources Protection Act requires us to take certain steps, with certain timelines associated with them,” she said.
The Casa Diablo area is rich in Native American cultural resources, and those sites must either be bored under, or moved, all with the involvement of the tribes affected, she said.
Pietresanta declined to give an estimate of the amount of time this process would take.
Although the entire backbone does not have to be connected to provide service to individual communities, this “connectivity” is important to quality and to the ability to ensure quality, said Nate Greenberg, Mono County’s IT specialist assigned to the Digital 395 project.
“The question regarding the end-to-end connectivity is a very important one,” he wrote in an email.
“Though the network may be lit up between Reno and Crowley, and then between Bishop (or Benton) and Barstow, the lack of continuity between Barstow and Reno is of significant concern.
“The primary reason for this is the lack of redundancy if there is a fiber cut between Mammoth and Bridgeport, for instance, or Bridgeport and Carson City. If the network were fully connected as designed, traffic would be able to be re-routed out the other end. Without that connection, not only is this not possible, but the monitoring and quality of service assurance of getting proper bandwidth delivery to the lit anchors is much more challenging.
“This all being said, without the continuous connection, those areas that do have complete construction will be able to get connection via either the north or south route.”
He also said the only reason that a community would not have access to the backbone would be because “either portions of the backbone accessing it, or distribution to the anchors is missing.
“In the case of June Lake, both are the case. In the case of Crowley, the backbone work is done, but distribution work remains. So there are a few different reasons for this potentially to be the case.”
For updates on the progress of Digital 395, visit digital395.com/project-map/mono-county.html.