For Immediate ReleaseNovember 29, 2018
Fiber-optic connections turning on, a victory for rural Marin; Bolinas interested
San Rafael, CA – Though a public-private partnership, broadband service has been turned on in more than 80 locations in the West Marin village of Nicasio and people in households, businesses and other agencies are enjoying fiber-optic access to the internet for the first time. As of late November, a few of them are low-income residents who are receiving the service at a cut rate.
The County of Marin provided some technical assistance and consultation on the project through its Department of Information Services and Technology (IST). The County is part of the ad hoc Marin County Broadband Task Force, which is working on the project in conjunction with Inyo Networks and the Nicasio Landowners Association.
Peter Pratt, a County-hired consultant, said the new service is an important step in digital equity as well because of the discounts offered to lower-income households. The first four households that met low-income criteria began getting service November 15.
“That was one of the goals of the (Marin County) Board of Supervisors and the state – to help eliminate the pockets of Marin that are excluded from the digital world,” Pratt said. “Marin has become a broadband leader for rural California communities because of its determination to bring broadband to everybody, not just some.”
More lower-income service recipients are scheduled to receive the service soon after they are identified by Inyo Networks and the landowners association. Full gigabit connections cost about $89 per month for standard users, and qualifying lower-income households can receive the service for $29.95 per month.
It’s not just private homeowners who are benefitting from the connections. Nicasio School, the Nicasio Volunteer Fire Department, a church, a Druids hall and other small businesses now have trusted connectivity in addition to local farms and ranches.
County leaders have worked toward establishing a broadband network in West Marin for many years. The Marin Broadband Task Force includes representatives from the County IST Department, the Marin County Administrator’s Office, the Marin County Department of Public Works, District 4 Supervisor Dennis Rodoni’s office, and other countywide agencies.
“I’m proud that we are making such great progress to bring cutting-edge gigabit fiber to over of 800 locations in West Marin,” Rodoni said. “The state grants involved have taken time to win and move into construction, but the impact to the lives our rural communities are tremendous.”
There are plans to keep growing Marin’s broadband connections. The service boost in Nicasio bodes well for the Bolinas Gigabit Network (BGN) Project, which received a $1.89 million grant from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) during a May 2018 meeting.
When the Bolinas project is turned on, Inyo expects to exceed 800 fiber-to-the-home connections in West Marin locations that previously did not have state-defined levels of broadband available. At that point, the number of remaining underserved locations in Marin will be brought down to an estimated 700. In 2014, nearly 4,000 locations in Marin had inadequate broadband as defined by state law.
The total network cost for the Nicasio project was about $2.5 million, and the CPUC covered 60 percent of the capital costs. Funds granted by CPUC represent the only public monies invested in the fiber project; no County or local governmental funds contributed to the capital investment. County and CPUC funds supported the professional services retained to assist in the grant application and network deployment phases.
Liza MasseyChief Information OfficerInformation Services and Technology Department
1600 Los Gamos DriveSuite 370San Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-7050Email: Liza MasseyIST webpage