California Counties Gaining Ground on Rural Internet

Published by Calaveras Enterprise on June 21, 2019

By Davis Harper, 

In an unlikely rural broadband success story, a fiber optic underground cabling project for the community of West Point broke ground June 4. That means about 80 Volcano Communications Co. subscribers in downtown West Point will soon have access to gigabit internet speeds, symmetrical upload and download speeds, digital cable, video streaming and reliable voice services at no cost. An update to a county roads policy played an essential role by alleviating permitting costs on Volcano’s end.

“This project is a great example of the county working with private industry to get things done,” said Calaveras County District 2 Supervisor Jack Garamendi. “Having internet is an important asset to providing an economic base and high quality of life for our residents. I am pleased that they are providing that opportunity.”

A transfer from traditional copper-based services, the upgrade will be a high-capacity replacement with the ability to get dramatically faster broadband speeds, according to Frank Leschinsky, the public sector manager at Volcano Communications.

A West Point resident, Leschinsky is a “firm believer in what this technology will do for the economy, jobs and businesses that would want to relocate to the area. If there’s no broadband of that caliber, then people won’t relocate there.”

Economic Development Director Kathy Gallino said the increased connectivity will be more than just an economic boost for the region.

“Having connectivity is such a big deal in many ways,” she said. “It’s going to appreciate the value of property and it’s great for public safety and health.”

For a small internet provider, installing fiber optic lines underground is a high-cost investment with low returns, even with support from federal and state programs. That said, the opportunity to increase public safety in the event of a wildfire outweighed those expenses for Volcano, Leschinsky said.

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