NEVADA CITY, Calif. November 2, 2020 – I am pleased to announce that Spiral is finishing what we started here in western Nevada County.
In 2021, we will begin constructing an all-underground fiber optic internet network that will connect 10,000 homes and 400 businesses; covering 119 square miles in Nevada City, Rough & Ready, Penn Valley, and southwest of Grass Valley with gigabit speeds. Areas that sorely need reliable wired internet connections. The stay-at-home pandemic requirements have made that clear to all of us. Yes, it’s ambitious. And we’re doing it.
In late 2017, the Bright Fiber Network Project’s grant had been funded for two years; five years after the application was submitted. Grant challenges from SmarterBroadband, ColfaxNet, and Comcast caused delays in Bright Fiber’s process, as they were intended to do. These delays and other business considerations had brought the project to a critical moment.
It was time to move forward, so I began the process of identifying a potential buyer for Bright Fiber Network, Inc. I asked Sandy Hakala (former CEO/CFO of Holdredge & Kull) to assist me. She had successfully overseen mergers for two companies and was experienced in this type of transaction. Race turned out to be an excellent fit, so it was the offer I accepted. I’m thrilled that customers are starting to be connected. It took ten years; a long road.
In fall of 2019, Sandy reached out to me and said, “We need to do more here, and I want to work with you to make it happen.” Sandy, who sits on the Nevada City School District Board, knows firsthand how crucial reliable internet access is for students’ success, especially in these challenging times. We all understand too, that fast internet is the key to our area’s economic vitality.
We formed Spiral Fiber, Inc., a new company with a known name. I had already mapped out the subsequent phases for western Nevada County and expanded on those. Knowing that this new project would be entirely privately financed, our focus and responsibility could now simply be how to best serve our customers, and our community.
Clearly, going all underground is the only way to ensure network reliability, considering our area’s high fire risk and the poor overall state of above-ground telecommunications infrastructure. Also, it had always been my intent to leverage the Vast Networks middle-mile project that had been funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). That collaboration has started.
In Spring 2020, we contracted with Lit Communities to design the network and build a financial model for investors. The final network design from this talented engineering firm is near completion. The project specs will soon go out to bid to infrastructure construction companies. Ongoing meetings this year with Nevada County Community Development departments have prepared the groundwork for both environmental assessments and permitting.
Yes, a lot has already been accomplished. It’s been hard keeping such an exciting project under wraps, so we’re happy to finally be letting the proverbial cat out of the bag. In early 2021, you’ll be able to go online (www.spiral.com) and sign up for the 95959 Fiber Project, 95946 Fiber Project, or the 95949 Fiber Project areas. We expect construction to start in the Spring. Stay tuned.