knee high timberland boots AT North Coast broadband service now more resilient than ever
Representatives from AT stated to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that major broadband internet and phone service outages on the North Coast like those that occurred last year will now be a thing of the past.
Where before a cut to a fiber optic line in Mendocino County could wipe out service for the entire North Coast, AT External Affairs Vice President Marc Blakeman said they have created a of fiber lines throughout Humboldt, Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma counties over the last several months that link AT stations and cell towers.
if there is a cut somewhere in that web, the traffic now has multiple areas where it can go in opposite directions so there is no impact or very little impact to customers when that happens, Blakeman said to the board. When there are cuts now, they are much easier to isolate and they impact fewer and fewer customers. Highway 101 and State Route 36, this new broadband system has since been put to the test by recent wildfires and has proven successful, Blakeman said. The Clayton Fire that started in Lake County in mid August and a fire near Willits last week each melted some of AT larger fiber lines. But Blakeman said that the resiliency upgrades reduced what would have been a widespread outage to an issue that could be corrected within half an hour.
had a number of cuts in the last six months that affected no one because of this resiliency program, he said.
The resilient fiber network currently ends in southern Arcata, with AT now working to construct a new fiber line running between Eureka and Trinidad by the end of 2018, according to AT spokeswoman Kate Ijams. The new fiber line would also prevent service outages at 911 call centers in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties, according to AT Coast Assemblyman Jim Wood (D Healdsburg), who has been working with his colleague state Sen. Mike McGuire (D Healdsburg) for over a year on the broadband issues, called AT work a first step. encouraged by AT report today that they have finished the upgrade so that if the lines are damaged, service can be quickly rerouted and the lines will be easier to isolate, quicker to fix and affect fewer people. upgrades come after several major broadband service outages struck North Coast communities last year, causing hundreds of thousands of people to lose cell and broadband services, businesses to lose profits, and emergency service communications to be lost. Coast Guard spent $250,
000 flying a helicopter across the coastline for nearly 40 hours when a fiber cut last year caused it to lose communications with ports.
Five major broadband outages have occurred on the North Coast within the last three years, each affecting more than 100,000 residents, according to McGuire.
AT announced its intention to upgrade its broadband network in December 2015,
Wood also drafted his Map Act this year that would work to prevent further outages from occurring. The bill is currently sitting on Gov. Jerry Brown desk.
Reached on Tuesday, McGuire said that AT has invested millions of dollars to improve broadband resiliency in time.
AT is now looking to bring high speed internet service to underserved areas in Humboldt County, which will require the company to construct new cell towers. Blakeman said they are looking for landlords, including the county, that are willing to allow them to build new towers near Fieldbrook, Blue Lake, Jacoby Creek, Kneeland, Bridgeville, Redcrest and Miranda.
As they are using federal funds for this project, AT must meet certain deadlines such as improving service to 40 percent of underserved areas by the end of next year.
Constructing new towers often takes several years even without opposition, Blakeman said, so they plan to upgrade their existing towers to meet this first deadline. Depending on the needs of each area, these upgrades may also improve service for customers already served by AT Blakeman said. A wage agreement struck with several county employee unions earlier this year now requires them to pay 3 percent more to the state pension program, the California Public Employees Retirement System.
In order for this pension payment to be put into effect, the board must adopt an ordinance,
according to county Human Resources Director Dan Fulks. The ordinance is set to come back to the board at a future meeting for final approval.
The board also approved a retirement resolution commending Cheri Williams for her 30 years as a communications dispatcher for the Humboldt County Sheriff Office.