Digital 395 plays key safety role in Round Fire

– Press release from California Broadband Cooperative

In less than a year following its completion, the Digital 395 network continues to quietly demonstrate its extraordinary value to California’s Eastern Sierra Region.

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In the midst of the recent fires in Mono County, California Broadband Cooperative’s (CBC) fiber optic network worked uninterrupted to provide critical communications to First Responders and other local officials struggling to contain the fires and bring order back to the area.

While the winds and fires took down the overhead utility lines providing telephone, cellular and power services to many parts of Mono County, the CBC network continued to provide an umbrella of communications to the area.



As commercial power failed, Digital 395’s UPS batteries and generators kicked into action to keep the 150 Gigabits of data flowing; and since the network was installed underground to better protect it from fire and other elements, it provided much-needed assurance to local officials and that they would remain in service.

“As long as local power was available to run their equipment, customers who were connected to the Digital 395 network enjoyed uninterrupted service”, said Nick Keeler, VP and General Manager of Inyo Networks, the company that supports CBC’s Digital 395 network operations. “We just made sure that the fuel for the generators were topped off so that we could continue to power the network for another couple of weeks if needed.”

On Sunday, after an all-night work session Inyo Networks and Verizon crews completed the emergency connection to the Verizon Mammoth Lakes central office that fully restored telephone service to the Verizon customer’s affected by the outage.

“CBC expresses its deepest sympathies to those who lost their homes or were otherwise affected by these tragedies in Mono County”, said Robert Volker Chief Executive Officer of CBC. “As the members of the community came together to combat the threat, our
team worked tirelessly throughout the weekend to craft a solution to the area’s communications outages. We are particularly proud of the role that Inyo Network’s team played in tying the area’s networks together to minimize outages. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing people work together to make things happen.”

Since its commissioning late last year, the Digital 395 network has steadily elevated the “digital landscape” of the Eastern Sierra region. In addition to over 200 schools, hospitals, and government buildings, CBC provides “backbone” internet service to local service providers like Inyo Networks, Schatnet, Suddenlink, and Lone Pine TV, whose
services were also available during the outages.

According to Mr. Keeler, Inyo Networks is engaged in an on-going effort to extend the reach of broadband throughout the area by bringing more community anchor institutions on line, encouraging Last Mile Providers to increase their bandwidth offerings, and to see broadband as an invaluable economic development resource.

By this summer, all Eastern Sierra schools will have gigabit connections to the Internetfor testing and distance learning. Hospitals in Mammoth and Ridgecrest have introduced new health care measures and procedures to take advantage of the new bandwidth.

And all three Counties (Mono/Inyo/Kern) have introduced policies or initiatives to ensure that broadband gets to all of its citizens.

Mny local residents noticed a big jump in their broadband speeds last year as CBC piped their services to the local service providers.
Funded by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and by the California Public Utilities Commission, the Digital 395 mission was to bring affordable broadband to rural America. Another important factor, although less prominent, was to supply
infrastructure that would improve public safety.

“I was delighted to see the network perform just as we had designed and expected that it would,” said Michael Ort, CEO of Praxis Associates, Inc., the company that designed and oversaw the construction of the network. “As the power went offline, we saw the generators come up in a blink. But ultimately the key to all of this is having the people – those that built it right and those that continue to keep it in ship-shape condition. We are very grateful that the CPUC and the Department of Commerce had the vision to make this investment. It seems to be paying off as expected.”

Speaking on behalf of the CBC Board of Directors, Ort added, “We are glad to have played our part in helping the community overcome this tragedy and look forward to more we can do to improve security and the quality of life in the Eastern Sierra.”

About California Broadband Cooperative:
California Broadband Cooperative, Inc. (CBC) is a member owned, not-for-profit, California Cooperative Corporation formed for the purposes of building and operating the Digital 395 network, The Digital 395 network provides high-speed broadband services to its members on a wholesale, open-access basis.

About Inyo Networks:
Inyo Networks, Inc. is a certificated Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) registered with the CPUC and FCC. It provides high speed data and voice services to commercial customers in the Eastern Sierra, Southern California and Northern Nevada
region. Inyo Networks is a full service sales agent for the Digital 395 and also providesoperational support services to CBC.

About Praxis Associates:
Praxis Associates, Inc. is a fiber optic network development company that specializes in developing complete broadband solutions for Public Private Partnership networks. Praxis specialties include business case development, grant applications and
administration, Rights-of-Way and Permits, local and long haul engineering, project management and fiber optic construction services.

Praxis clients include large-scale telecommunications firms, companies and communities developing private networks,
and governmental entities. Praxis is the managing agent for the Digital 395 Network on behalf of CBC. Praxis corporate offices are located in Vallejo, California with regional offices in Bishop, CA, Reno, NV and Rancho Cucamonga, CA.



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15 Responses to Digital 395 plays key safety role in Round Fire

  1. Roy February 12, 2015 at 8:06 am #

    A bit self serving, don’t you think.
    The digital 395 circuits do not serve a single person or general business directly. These circuits provide internet access only to federal, state, local government and “qualified” internet service providers.
    In this case the Verizon “central office” and wireless transmitters in Paradise and Swall Meadows had internet access so firefighters had internet access on their cell phones and I’m sure this was a benefit.
    But any residents that got their internet from those downed telephone lines connected to digital 395 were out of luck.
    I really wish digital 395 would allow access to their facilities by businesses.

  2. Martin Kleinbard February 12, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

    With all due respect you do not seem to understand how this broadband stuff works.
    I am a current Sitting Board member of the Eastern Sierra Connect Regional Broadband Consortium. (ESCRBC) Please let me explain.

    At the inception of the Digital 395 project, was the ability to provide redundant services either north or south.

    Digital 395 is a MIDDLE mile provider , it was paid for in large part from public Monies. It is run by California Broadband Cooperative ( CBC) a Not for Profit entity unlike VERIZON which is for profit company.

    Middle mile providers generally do not provide Last Mile services like your local phone company or Cable provider does ( Suddenlink ) Middle mile is the Backhaul or the entity the provides the bullk internet traffic to the internet and the last mile would be your Internet Service Provider (ISP) like Verizon DSL , Suddenlink, Comcast..

    As for Verizon in this case No Verizon internet customers had their backhaul through Digital 395, that is why the had no internet when the cable melted. It was not untill the persuasiveness of Mono County IT director Nate Greenberg board of CBC and Chair of ESCRBC explaned the dire need for Verizon to use the services of the Digital 395 fiber network Verizon. Without the Digital 395 project Communication services provided by Verizon through the downed fiber could have taken weeks to restore.

    Not all Circuits that run north out of Bishop for Verizon run on the fiber cable that burned in the wildfire. Originally the Fiber went directly from the Verizon Bishop Central office (CO) to the Mammoth lakes CO without any much local connections along the way. It was not until about fall of 2013 that the Fiber cable was intercepted to add DSL internet to Swall and Crowley lakes. When that cable was severed in the past most Verizon connection failed like it did this time.

    It is the choice of any ISP as to which provider they use for Backhaul. You the customer can vote with their pocket book.

    Businesses can obtain Services to digital 395 through a ISP that currently uses D395 or through Inyo Networks. It really depends what is most cost effective for your needs. Not all areas of the counties served have easy access to the D395 backhaul. There are projects in the works as are people looking to create such projects. Soon Crowley Lake residents with be served with Gigabit Fiber the fastest speeds in the county and most of California. This Fiber to the Home will be at a extremely low price for the unheard of speeds. Unfortunately this all will take time. it is being worked on.

    There will be some up coming workshops stay tuned.

    I hope these clarifications were helpful.
    Thank You.


    • Ken Warner February 12, 2015 at 6:50 pm #

      Martin: Thanks for the in depth information. I live in Mammoth and trying to talk to Verizon about the outage was next to impossible. They probably didn’t know.

      Voting with my pocket book is not really a good option given how much work it is to change email and other things that are necessary like bank inflows and outflows. It would be good to get something like what you say will happen in Crowley if for no other reason than to give Verizon some competition.

    • Pedro February 12, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

      Yeah, yeah. Only reason Swall and Crowley have local connection is settlement bargaining. Paradise has no connection at all to be interrupted or increased in speed. Paradise fire station volunteers still put themselves on the line first. When do they get their connectin?

  3. Martin Kleinbard February 12, 2015 at 8:35 pm #

    If you recall the article in the sheet after the Holidays I was one of the first to jump all over Suddenlink because of the problems they had. I was also critical of that I felt they were unprepared for the increase in internet traffic we experience on a seasonal basis. This time Suddenlink was the champion because they were early adopters of D395. Their services were uninterrupted. Services were also unaffected at Mono county libraries because they too were connected to D395. This fire was a wake up call for communication services r area. We are hopeful for a greater adoption of D395 will occur and allow for more choices.

    Migrations from one ISP to another are always difficult , At this point we will see how things play out. The FCC recently made a change to what the minimum internet speeds are to be considered broadband. Currently CA defines it as 4mbps down and 1.5 up. The new will be 25 down. This is going to really change the game.

    • Eastsider February 16, 2015 at 7:41 pm #

      I also was bummed about the slow internet over the holidays, but I also feel like the papers really bashed Suddenlink hard. Where was the bashing on Von’s for long lines, or no open lanes at the bowling alley? What about the fact that I couldn’t use my families phone data (ATT or Verizon) over the holidays. How did Verizons DSL work over the holidays? This town just can’t handle all the visitors in every aspect, but I also hear other resort towns have the same problems.
      Also, town was crazy this past weekend and my internet never slowed down, looks like Suddenlink might have made some improvements

  4. Eastern Sierra Local February 13, 2015 at 8:37 am #

    On Monday after the fires I had to go to Carson City and my cellphone (Verizon) has no service through all of Mono County.

    I sense that Verizon will never tap into Digital 395 and provide FIOS to residential homes in the Eastern Sierra because the money isn’t in that service; Verizon will go the other way and push wireless service through a 4G network to homes- it costs less, Verizon can charge per gigabyte of data, the infrastructure is already in, and there is virtually no maintenance or personnel costs with wireless 4G.

    • Martin Kleinbard February 17, 2015 at 7:54 am #

      DSL worked fine during the holidays in Mammoth. At least the circuit I am on. I checked around regarding Suddenlink and I hear things were much better than Christmas time.
      As far as bashing that was not the intent. Suddenlink provides internet which has become a vital service for residents and visitors. This service can be provided at a High Quality Level of service because we now have the capacity out of town.

      Verizon wireless was overloaded in parts of town other areas in town I was able to get great speeds at the same time.

      Att seemed pretty good good.

      Others post of their experience.

      Vons on the other hand truly cannot handle the peak traffic. The Mammoth Vons probably needs to be as large as the Bishop one. I bet that is wishful thinking.

    • Tom O February 17, 2015 at 9:00 am #

      ESL….there is no coverage from North Mono Lake all the way to Minden…..cept for parts of NE Bridgeport and a spot out by the beach at Topaz Lake……When I worked for Schwan’s those were the only areas that I could make calls……or just do what my boss did in Mammoth…..switch to AT & T.

  5. Martin Kleinbard February 13, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    Eastern Sierra Local,

    Yes this may be true with Verizon and not willing to upgrade and tie into the Digital 395 for a Fios type fiber to the home (FTTH). With the new FCC broadband requirements maybe this will change things a bit.

    Also probably true about 4g service. 4g is not a long term solution.

    There are however smaller ISP’s that will be looking into develop services in the area. It’s not a closed book yet. D395 is the backbone of the future of communications, It has only been online for about a year. It will take some time. There are many in the area who are looking for alternatives. They are looking to have coverage in the under served and un-served locations.

    • Ken Warner February 13, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

      A competent and forward thinking local government would invest in a local ISP. The internet is just as important as every other utility. Instead of wasting money on the airport and the Tourism office, build facilities that people can use and the visitors will then have a reason to come here and eventually buy homes here.

      • eastern sierra local February 16, 2015 at 10:32 am #

        The City and some other local non-profits are in process of putting in free wifi service on Main Street in Bishop; the wifi signal will be transmitted from the gazebo in the park, it should be online by Mule Days.

        • Trouble February 16, 2015 at 8:08 pm #

          I like the idea of free wifi. Why not do it for the whole city? I personally think they should put drinking fountains on every corner on Main st. Everybody could see we are a friendly town and we want them to stop and walk around.

  6. Roy February 13, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

    Where were you when we needed you!!!
    We wanted to build a TV Master control facility in Ridgecrest to control facilities and feed programming, via the internet, to the eight TV stations we operate in the Western US.
    Initially Verizon had a great solution – they could provide low latency fiber to the internet and they had the people to support it.
    But Digital 395 came along all of the institutional (Government) users left Verizon. Verizon no longer had the local staff to support the service we needed – they moved their digital efforts (including FiOS) to other areas.
    We attempted to contact the Digital 395 consortium about hooking up but got no where. We were a private business concern and we didn’t qualify. It didn’t matter that the Digital 395 fiber was in front of our building. It didn’t matter that no one else could provide what we needed. The experience left us feeling like a second class citizens.
    We moved our operation to Grand Junction, CO. There, we have a choice of three private fiber providers to choose from. Each was eager for our business and we ended up paying less than what we would have paid from Digital 395. We will have 75 employees by the year end.
    So if things are so good in Grand Junction why do I even take the time to post this?
    Here’s why – I grew up in Bishop. I’ve spent most of my life here. To be honest, I resent that I no longer have a free market choice of who to do business with. I resent that the government decides who connects to it’s fiber and who doesn’t. Mostly I resent that I can no longer conduct my business in this wonderful place,

  7. Martin Kleinbard February 13, 2015 at 8:11 pm #

    Roy ,
    I was not around in the early days when the D395 project was being planned.
    I would like to know more about this and why a potential company was turned away.
    I know there are some strange things going on in Ridgecrest and I do not understand the reasons as of yet.
    I cannot believe that Verizon moved their efforts last year, D395 has only been live about 1 year. I also don’t get that Verizon was willing to provide the backhaul you required and then fell through. Verizon cannot even provide the backhaul that others need as the services are limited and expensive.
    Can you please give me a call sometime my # is in the book.


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