What’s New/Hot Topic

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Vision
The vision of Central Sierra Connect is to bridge the digital divide by bringing broadband to the people and the people to broadband.

Mission
The mission of Central Sierra Connect is to support the region’s residents, businesses, visitors and organizations through the promotion, coordination and enhancement of e-technology: broadband access / adoption and technology education.

Goals

  • Optimize broad-based involvement of our region’s stakeholders through leadership in a collaborative process
  • Provide expertise through a team well-versed in broadband technologies, analysis, public services and community outreach
  • Link statistics, demographics and mapping information for broadband expansion to community, Internet service providers, regulators and public policy-makers
  • Advocate for rural needs at the state and federal level
  • Encourage broadband policy adoption
  • Facilitate broadband availability by identifying the region’s rural communities in greatest need and connecting them with local Internet providers
  • Provide broadband information and promote digital literacy opportunities within the region
  • Conduct outreach through needs assessment and education for various public service sectors, including but not limited to: public safety, libraries, schools, seniors, tribes, employment and training, etc.

Values

  • Shared leadership and leadership development which steers the goals of Central Sierra Connect (CSC)
  • Accountability through the reporting of measured outcomes
  • Public access to and transparency of CSC committee information through various media outlets such as newsletters, consortia website and social media
  • Collaboration which respects and encourages input from many sources, including leadership, stakeholders, and the public
  • Clear communication to accommodate various audiences with a broad spectrum of technical capability

Please download CSC’s Vision, Mission, Goals and Values here.

Contact us here.

Coach & Learn – Free Computer Classes for Tuolumne County Residents

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

January 5, 2016

For Immediate Release: We are pleased to announce the commencement of free basic computer classes for Tuolumne County residents.

The Coach and Learn Computer Training Program, a community collaboration between ATCAA, Central Sierra Connect, Mother Lode Job Training, Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office, Columbia College and the Tuolumne County Library, will be offering basic computer and basic internet classes on a variety of days and times at the Tuolumne County Library main branch, Mother Lode Job Training in Sonora and Columbia College. In addition there will be a drop in session most Mondays at the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office. Classes will be taught by local technology experts each possessing extensive teaching experience. Class length will be two hours and consist of both lecture and hands on learning. No experience is required as both classes are structured for residents new to computing – including those who have never touched a device. There is no charge for either class.

Additional information is available by contacting the Coach and Learn program at: 536-8757 or coachandlearn@gmail.com

This program is made possible by grants from the Sonora Area Foundation and the California Emerging Technology Fund

Darrell Slocum / Marketing Director / Central Sierra Connect Broadband

CoachandLearn_PRINT

For more information on classes, click here.

CSC Quarterly Newsletter – August 2015

Friday, August 28th, 2015

New Community Survey

The vision of Central Sierra Connect is to bridge the digital divide by bringing broadband to the people and the people to broadband.

** Vast Networks
** Update on CVIN
————————————————————
** CVIN, now called Vast Networks, is up and running!
————————————————————

This nearly $100M fiber project was partially funded through an ARRA Grant Application submitted in 2010 and the massive network is now complete and continuing to grow. It includes fiber routes traversing the Central Valley from Bakersfield to Colusa (up Hwy 99 and I-5 to the Bay Area) with a unique ring configuration that branches east to serve the Mother Lode region through a totally new fiber path.

Vast is California’s newest, entirely underground fiber network equipped with next-generation networking and monitoring technology. As a result of this project, the Mother Lode region is now served with a fiber network that offers a unique ring configuration over an alternative route for more reliable Internet backhaul and communication interconnectivity. Please click here (http://www.centralsierraconnect.org/new-fiber-for-the-mother-lode/) for more information.

** Broadband Policy Bank
————————————————————
A collection of the best local broadband development policies can be found at the new Policy Bank page, found
here (http://www.centralsierraconnect.org/broadband-policy-bank/ ) . This is a work in progress. If you know about additional examples or topics that should be included, please let us know!

** Community Survey
————————————————————

** Survey on Computer and Internet Use
————————————————————

Please help us (Tuolumne County Library, Central Sierra Connect Broadband
Consortium, Amador Tuolumne Community Action Agency, Mother Lode Job
Training and Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools) learn what your
computer use and Internet needs are and what kind of training you need to
become more skilled in computers and navigating the Internet. Your responses
will help us design classes to meet your needs and locate Internet Service
Providers if you don’t currently have one, beginning in 2016.

Our survey (in English and Spanish) is available
here (http://www.centralsierraconnect.org/400/).

** Changes to Comcast Internet Essentials Program
————————————————————

** Comcast has made some improvements to the Internet Essentials program:
————————————————————

1. They are allowing “auto-enroll” for all students in schools that have at least 50% students eligible for Free or Reduced Lunch Program. Previously it was only for schools that had 70% or higher. Now, we all know that this “auto-enroll” was never so “automatic.” We don’t anticipate the expansion of it to go any more smoothly, but we can always hope.

Please send us complaint forms for Comcast or any other service you are using. It will help us find glitches for services that are working in good faith, and help us hold others accountable with the FCC and CPUC. They are very important for both state and federal policy.

Other improvements to know about:

2. Comcast has increased the speed for the IE program (10mbps).
3. New subscribers will be getting wireless routers.

These are both improvements that your complaint forms and advocacy have helped bring about. Congratulations! Please let us know if you have questions/ concerns. And as always, keep in touch about your challenges and successes with signing up for broadband!

** Steering Committee Notes
————————————————————
Central Sierra Connect’s Steering Committee notes from July 29th, 2015 are available in detail here (http://www.centralsierraconnect.org/398/).

The agenda includes:
* Grant funding(s) and plans, projects
* AB1262 Update
* CSC Letter to CPUC/CASF Staff
* Cal.net Project Update
* CVIN Update
* NDRC and Emergency 211 Project
* The Importance of Broadband Redundancy – recent news

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Copyright © 2015 ATCAA, All rights reserved.
You received this information because you have expressed interest in the Central Sierra Broadband Consortia. Please forward this e-mail to interested parties and unsubscribe from this list if you no longer what to receive these messages.

Our mailing address is:
ATCAA
427 N. Hwy 49
Sonora, CA
Sonora, Ca 95370

Broadband Policy Bank

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

The municipal broadband policy bank is open

Writing good broadband policy is a lot easier when you start with good examples. So thanks to a nudge from the Monterey Bay Economic Partnership, I finally got around to doing something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time: post a collection of the best local broadband development policies that I know.

The result is the new Policy Bank page on this website. It has several examples – in both pdf and source formats – of dig once policies, specifications for conduit, requirements for newly constructed (or significantly remodelled) homes and businesses, tools for managing broadband assets, permitting practices, master leases for telecoms facilities, broadband master plans and general plans. And staff reports that provide the factual and policy basis for city council and board of supervisors adoption.

The bank is heavily weighted toward examples from California, because that’s where I am. Top picks include the comprehensive package adopted and implemented by the City of Santa Cruz (and a generic version I ripped off adapted), as well as specific policies from Berkeley, San Francisco and Santa Cruz County. I had some input into a few of the policies, but what’s posted is primarily the work of creative, forward thinking staff.

In some cases, the source files will look a little funky. Where the originals weren’t available, I used PDF Pen Pro to do the conversion and then did some proofing and tidying up. The text should be clean but I won’t guarantee it at the 100% level, so please proof read anything you use. And if you spot a discrepancy, please let me know.

It’s definitely a work in progress. If you know about about additional examples or topics that should be included, please send them my way. All suggestions and contributions are welcome and appreciated.

Steering Committee Minutes, July 29th, 2015

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

CSC Steering Committee Meeting Minutes

July 29, 2015; 11:30am – 12:45pm; ATCAA 3rd Floor Conference Room

Attended in person: Jennifer Penrose, Darrell Slocum, Daniel Richardson, Greg Falken, Cole Przybyla, Michael Ayala, Kathleen Haff, Shelly Hance

Attended by phone: Jeff Gardner, Tara Schiff

Agenda

1. Grant funding(s) and plans, projects, where the Steering Committee comes in!

CASF grant has expired but CSC is still operating off of unused funds. CSC wants to keep going. There is still much we feel we need to accomplish. Presentation made in May to Sonora Area Foundation (SAF). Grant written and submitted to SAF in June. SAF Grant approved and funded in July. Additional grant was requested from SAF and granted at the end of June for the same sort of work. This funding will help bridge the gap between existing unused funding and the hopefully, the soon to be approved AB1262 funding. The work will be focused on various forms of adoption, and will be a collaborative process.

2. AB1262 Update

This legislation is waiting to be heard on the full Senate floor. (Since our Steering Committee, AB1262 was heard and passed the full Senate and is now going to the Governor’s office for his signature.) It is still unknown how long it will take the CPUC to pass along the funding to the Consortia.

3. CSC Letter to CPUC/CASF Staff

A letter was written, signed by Shelly and sent to the CPUC and CASF staff encouraging them to begin working on the rules of implementation for AB1262 funds now. No word from them on CSC recommendations.

4. Cal.net Project Update

It is taking longer than the CPUC said it would take to approve Cal.net’s projects. They are still in evaluation mode. There are some technical issues and some involving CEQA. Cal.net will need help with all of the privately owned towers in the upper Hwy 108 corridor and in the PML/Groveland area. Protests appeared to be resolved. CASF is continuing to get letters of support for the Pinecrest area.

5. CVIN Update

The network is now completed. The County Superintendent’s Office of Schools is connected in Tuolumne County and in Calaveras County. CVIN has increased staffing and is actively sending out quotes to ISPs for backhaul. CVIN is mandated to sell at wholesale prices to ISPs. Cal.net is talking to CVIN about their projects. The ED Director, Larry Cope, is hopeful to have a project using CVIN backbone also. The main library in Tuolumne County is connected to CVIN, but they are awaiting air ducting work and the arrival of some switches to make it fully operational. That should happen in about 3 weeks.

6. NDRC and Emergency 211 Project

CSC has submitted an Emergency 211 project to the NDRC competition for consideration. Discussion about what benefit that would offer, if approved.

7. The Importance of Broadband Redundancy – recent news

Our region suffers when we rely on just one or two internet providers. We need more redundancy. That is where the CVIN project, now completed, will begin to fill this void. Recent news regarding lack of redundancy and network failure discussed.

New Fiber for the Mother Lode

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

Update on CVIN August 18, 2015

New Fiber for the Mother Lode

CVIN, now called Vast Networks, is up and running! This nearly $100M fiber project was partially funded through an ARRA Grant Application submitted in 2010 and the massive network is now complete and continuing to grow. It includes fiber routes traversing the Central Valley from Bakersfield to Colusa (up Hwy 99 and I-5 to the Bay Area) with a unique ring configuration that branches east to serve the Mother Lode region through a totally new fiber path. Vast is California’s newest, entirely underground fiber network equipped with next-generation networking and monitoring technology. As a result of this project, the Mother Lode region is now served with a fiber network that offers a unique ring configuration over an alternative route for more reliable Internet backhaul and communication interconnectivity. Due to reliance on aerial, one-way (non-ring), single provider pathways which are vulnerable to vandalism and breakage, the Mother Lode region has been plagued with Internet and communication outages. These outages cripple existing business and discourage new business from moving to the area. Vast is now a key solution for mitigating these outages. The network offers several key advantages:

Vast provides an alternative fiber pathway to the Mother Lode via Hwy 108 branching east from Hwy 99 to Sonora and then traverses north reaching unserved areas of the Mother Lode. It then loops back to its main artery near Hwy 99 north of Sacramento creating its unique “ring” configuration. Other backhaul providers (like AT&T and Comcast) follow single pathways up Hwy 4 and 16 to serve the Mother Lode;

Unique “ring” configuration of the Vast Network offers more reliability. If a fiber cut or failure occurs on one side of the network ring, the Vast Network can still communicate from the other direction. Other backhaul providers (like AT&T and Comcast) use one-way (non-ring) pathways to serve the Mother Lode that once cut, take out everything they feed;

Entirely underground, Vast is less susceptible to failure than aerial networks. Other backhaul providers (like AT&T and Comcast) predominantly use aerial pathways (over telephone and power poles) to serve the Mother Lode which have been interrupted numerous times due to auto accidents fire or vandalism;

Latest technology, the Vast network uses next-gen monitoring and networking equipment;

24/7 monitoring and maintenance;

Connections ranging from 50Mbps up to 10Gbps;

Vast interlinks to key peering points, data centers, national and global networks.

Vast Networks is now serving anchor institutions in the Mother Lode with high-capacity connections, including Tuolumne County Office of Education, Calaveras County Office of Education, county libraries, government offices, hospitals and internet service providers (ISP’s). With aggressive pricing for connections with or without Internet data, Vast is designed for large customers and is now the ideal network for prime or redundant backhaul for business enterprises and ISP’s in the Mother Lode. Clear Mountain, LLC (an Internet technology company based in Sonora) is now a local authorized agent for CVIN. For more information, call Vast Networks at 559-554-9100 or Clear Mountain at 209.213.5031.

CSC Quarterly Newsletter – April 2015

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Funding extension for Central Sierra Connect!

The vision of Central Sierra Connect is to bridge the digital divide by bringing broadband to the people and the people to broadband.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

• CSC Grant Status Update
• Central Valley Next-Generation Broadband Infrastructure Project
• Update on New Funding Opportunity / AB 1262
• Cal.Net Application Update
• FCC Rural Tour
• Housing Grant AB 1299

CSC Grant Status Update
As previously reported our three year grant from the CASF (California Advanced Services Fund) expired on February 28. However, because we had funds remaining, we requested and were granted an extension by the CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission) the administrator of the CASF. After reviewing expenditures we’ve determined that we will be able to continue operating until October. Great news as much work remains.

Update on New Funding Opportunity
The Assembly Bill designed to provide additional funding for Central Sierra Connect and the state’s other consortia (AB 1262) has cleared the Assembly and now moves on to the California Senate. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and is tentatively scheduled to be heard on June 16th. We’re hopeful that the bill will pass and allow us to continue our work beyond October. We will keep you posted.

Central Valley Next-Generation Broadband Infrastructure Project (CVIN)
The Tuolumne County Office of Education on Stockton Road in Sonora is now connected to the CVIN fiber network and the Calaveras County Office of Education in Angels Camp is expecting delivery of the equipment to allow their connection by the end of May. These connections are an indication that area ISP’s may soon be providing added connectivity and improved bandwidth via the CVIN fiber network.

Housing Grant AB 1299
CSC is pursuing potential funding opportunities via AB 1299 a CASF housing grant to provide increased broadband adoption. CSC personnel participated in a conference call with the CPUC to determine parameters and requirements of the grant as well as eligibility. More research is being conducted.

FCC Rural Tour
CSC participated in the FCC Rural Tour stops in San Andreas and Mariposa. The tour was designed to obtain input from residents on communications issues in rural communities. The meeting in San Andreas included representatives from the CPUC including Commissioner Catherine Sandoval.

Cal.Net Application Update
Cal.net’s application for CASF funding for projects in Amador / Calaveras / Alpine Counties and Tuolumne / Mariposa Counties is moving through the CPUC. At this point, the CPUC is waiting until the latest round of data is uploaded to their broadband map in order to more accurately determine if the area proposed by Cal.net meets the requirement of being unserved / underserved.

Central Sierra Connect Steering Committee Notes – April 27, 2015

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Central Sierra Connect Steering Committee Meeting Minutes
Monday, 4/27/15
ATCAA, Sonora Office 3rd Floor Conference Room
11:30 – 12 noon Lunch- for those who attend in person
12 noon – 12:45 pm Meeting Begins via conference call and in person

In attendance: Greg Falken, Darrell Slocum, Frank Laschinsky, Daniel Richardson, Troy Ashton, Rosemarie Smallcombe, Steve Smallcombe, Kathleen Haff, Cole Przybyla

On the phone: Connie Williams

Minutes
1. CVIN Status Report
Frank: Volcano is one of the owners of CVIN. 7 independent telephone companies comprising the ownership. A lot of obstacles had to be overcome. Waiting for southern portion of circuit to be finished. 2 phases. 1st – construction phase. 2nd just now implemented – the sales marketing component. Also waiting for 2nd round of funding for personnel to be completed – caused some delays. They were overwhelmed with the project. The number of requests were overwhelming. Design had to change which added to the cost of the whole project. Now taking orders. Asked if they could make some sort of public announcement when finished. Frank will ask them to do so. The traffic continues to explode. Activated a new port. 1 gig consumed within 2 months. Cable will be turned on its ear in the not too distant future.
Troy: County Schools Office – testing right now, turn over some time this week. Line to the high school is finished (redundancy ring). The high school could use the CVIN ring if they wanted, right now with AT&T.
Darrell: Cautions people to be specific with their frustrations with CVIN. The benefits will be tremendous. Hopeful that they will get people hired and end people’s frustration.

2. CASF Grant Applications Updates
• Cal.net
App was submitted. 1 challenge by Volcano/CalTel/and Sierra. Due to accuracy or lack thereof of CPUC maps. Those 3 companies say that certain areas area already covered. CPUC now has to confirm the information. Ground trothing, some sort of testing or whatever. Cal.net may have to remove certain census blocks. Protests are coming mostly from Calaveras and Amador. There is a small portion of Tuolumne County map protested. Protests come from the smaller ISPs. CPUC will have to decide if the applicant will offer a faster buildout than the incumbent ISP among other factors. Darrell explains that competition is a good thing. More choices. There is nothing in writing available that we know of for the criteria that the CPUC makes these decisions from.

• Sierra Nevada Communications
They are still in the process of creating their shapefile maps and financial documents. Have not submitted yet. Did not submit for Groveland.

3. CSC Future Funding Options
• Current projected end date for current funding
Original grant was for 3 years. Expired 2/28/15. Extension granted to use the rest of the funding. Will hopefully take us through May or June. Depends on level of support we give to the 2nd ISP

• AB1262 status
Effort to make funds available for broadband consortia to continue. It would move $5M from the RLF to the consortia funding. Jim Woods (Mendocino) sponsored the bill. Went from the committee to the Appropriations Committee. Was told that it would go into suspense. Sunne McPeak is working on it. Committee meeting is this Wednesday, 4/29. Even if this bill does pass there will still be a void in funding.

• Outreach for other (gap) funding resources
Bridge funding will be needed. Starting to establish county committees to help. We will go to the counties to ask for funding, SAF for a small grant. Matching funds will be sought.

Suggestions: Katrina from SRMC working to find broadband for the doctors who are moving up here. Contact her (Troy).

• AB 238 (Stone – Santa Cruz) to raise the definition of broadband to 25 down and 3 up. Now a 2-year bill. He owns a vacation cabin in Strawberry.

• Frank: Regarding the change in broadband definition – It will be a challenge to meet those #s. With trees, mountains and geography, it may not be attainable in certain areas. Moving toward a heterogeneous method. Demand for unlicensed spectrum will be further congested. PG&E put their Smart Meters on the 900 mhz spectrum. This has created more problems.

• Not everyone wants to pay for the higher priced options.

4. BB Policy Adoption – looking for one county that would like to begin this legacy work with CSC as a model for other counties in the region

Barriers to implement broadband infrastructure include local government. Daniel: If you really want the clout, get the buy-in from other influential business people behind it.
Cole: Planning commissioners can suggest standards.

Troy: Britebites Report soon to be available on school children’s broadband connectivity at home. Results may be shared in CSC’s next newsletter. Schools are going the Google for Ed Program. Can use iPads, also.

Have Questions About Net Neutrality?

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Head over to Cnet to read about the 7 things net neutrality won’t do!

Steering Committee Notes, 11/20/2014

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

Whether you missed the Steering Committee meeting or you’re just checking to see what we’ve been up to, do feel free to check out the meeting notes below.

Download here.

Broadband Improvement Project: Start Here!

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014