The rural community of Occidental in western Sonoma County will finally join the 21st Century with reliable, affordable, fiber-to-the-home high-speed broadband Internet.
SONOMA COUNTY – On Thursday August 18th, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unanimously approved a grant for construction of the Race Communications Gigafy Occidental Project for fiber-to-the-home, high-speed broadband Internet to the previously unserved area west of the town of Occidental. The grant is funded by the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) administered and managed by the CPUC.
The project covers approximately 5 square miles of hilly terrain with very tall redwood forests and highly dispersed homes, vineyards and small farms. The complex terrain makes it unfeasible to bring broadband Internet to the community using anything other than a fiber solution.
The approval of the project represents the result of a determined effort by members of the community to bring broadband access to the approximately 500 households in this rural area. The community organized public meetings with the CPUC and coordinated letters of support from local businesses, public safety officials and local schools. In addition, almost half of the community wrote personal letters of support detailing their business, health, education and other needs for Internet. The community also worked with the CPUC to run speed tests and map the area to document unserved status. Community organizers surveyed residents to verify that the vast majority of households would subscribe to the service. This assisted Race and the CPUC to justify the need and business case for the project.
Access Sonoma Broadband (ASB) and the North Bay/North Coast Broadband Consortium actively supported the community and helped stimulate its grass roots efforts. It also took on the role of working with supervisors, legislators and government officials to win their support. Michael Nicholls, Co-Chair of ASB commented, “Our experience in Occidental with community organizing and government outreach has given us a framework for replicating this success in other North Bay communities.”
Race is based in the San Francisco Bay area and has a successful track record of delivering fiber solutions to rural communities that are both affordable and sustainable. “Access to high-speed broadband continues to be one of the most challenging issues facing rural areas in California.” Said Race CEO, Raul Alcaraz. “As a native of the Bay Area, I care deeply about our local communities. Our team is proud to work with the CPUC, ASB and local community organizers to deliver fiber-based solutions that are good for the community and sustainable as a long-term business.”