Alpine, Amador, Calavera, Tuolumne and Mariposa counties have invested in creating a broadband roadmap for the Central Sierra region and efforts are currently underway to identify gaps broadband service, set priorities and take advantage of funding opportunities to accelerate investment in broadband infrastructure. This follows what South Lake Tahoe has been involved in.
The five counties have collectively engaged broadband consultancy, NEO Connect, to create the Broadband Report which will identify existing broadband and fiber assets in the study area, identify gaps in service coverage and develop a plan to address these gaps. In doing so, counties will work with local stakeholders and regional service providers, establish plans and estimated capital costs, and identify potential partners to facilitate broadband infrastructure improvements. This effort will help existing service providers by facilitating an open discussion on how to jointly address communication gaps in coverage as well as improving existing infrastructure to enable faster broadband speeds.
In South Lake Tahoe, the groundwork has been done with a feasibility study by the Tahoe Prosperity Center, and at Tuesday’s city council meeting they voted unanimously to spend $400,000 on a study on the broadband infrastructure that will provide direction for cost-effective broadband services for the community. The funds will come from Cares Act money.
The Five Counties Internet Survey is available to area residents to provide feedback and information on the level of services currently available, how the Internet is currently used by residents, and what is most important to members of the community with regard to high-speed Internet. services. The survey is available online at www.centralsierrabroadband.com, and all residents are invited to participate and provide their input.
So far, the internet survey results suggest that existing services lack both reliability and speed. Many respondents said the lack of broadband availability had impacted their ability to attend classes or work from home.
They are also looking for additional contributions from members of the Alpine, Amador, Calavera, Tuolumne, and Mariposa communities via a webinar forum. Citizens are encouraged to participate in this process by discussing their current broadband services and needs. The webinars are scheduled for the following dates and times:
Tuesday, February 8 at 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, February 9 at 12:00 p.m. – Focus on the impact on companies, non-profit organizations and anchor institutions
Wednesday February 16 at 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, February 17 at 12 p.m.
Attendees must register prior to scheduled webinars. To register, go to www.centralsierrabroadband.com and select the webinar for your participation.