PST Manager’s & President’s Report
Last year was another great year of progress for Plumas Sierra Telecommunications.
Good news: Our Scott Road project is now underway as we have just received environmental clearance. We’ve expanded to most of Loyalton and are working on builds throughout Sierra Valley and parts of Lassen County.
We were able to connect more than 800 household customers to broadband service during the year.
There is still one project waiting for California Public Utilities Commission approval. The CPUC added a step in the process that has delayed our build from our Mohawk substation to Massack. The state of California is working on a better backbone system for fiber optic, and there are delays due to environmental permits, as well as coordination issues to make sure the state isn’t also building their proposed new backbone plant through grant locations. This last delayed grant would greatly help the Cromberg and Greenhorn ranch areas, so we will keep pushing to get it approved to start. Also waiting is our United States Department of Agriculture earmark we received with Representative Doug LaMalfa’s support. We expect environmental clearance on the USDA project in the near future.
We’d like to thank Representative Kevin Kiley for his help in submitting an earmark for the A-15 area near Portola and Clio. We’d also like to thank California State Senator Brian Dahle and California assembly member Megan Dahle for their tireless support for the California Advanced Services Fund.
Residents outside of grant areas also benefit from our fiber optic being closer to more neighborhoods. It improves our wireless system, as well as our coaxial service.
We are often asked why we didn’t get a grant for a specific area even though we received a grant for a community nearby.
State programs are specific about which areas are eligible for grant funding. They must be deemed unserved or underserved by the CPUC based on internet service provider reporting data on areas covered. The good news here is California modified their rules to rely less on census blocks and look more at unserved households. We’ve applied for additional grants to get to more portions of our system and will apply for a second wave of locations in the next few months. Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications continues to improve its broadband networks. As with our electric system, PST will steadily improve all systems and expand coverage.
We care about our communities and want them to thrive. We are also working with the electric side of the house on dual purpose or hybrid projects—projects where the electric cooperative gets expanded control of the electric grid and PST rents some of the fiber to bring broadband to more members. We expect these types of projects to continue into the foreseeable future. We just completed two hybrid projects in the Galeppi Ranch subdivision near Quincy and the Ponderosa Lane area near Janesville.
PST’s coax and wireless broadband services offer download speeds of up to 25 Mbps and 50 Mbps. Our fiber optic services can go as fast as 1 gigabytes per second (Gbps) download, with dedicated business services available. With these speeds, you can stream videos on multiple devices at the same time without slowing down. You could even eliminate your cable or satellite TV bill with streaming services. We are working on rolling out faster speeds for our existing fiber-optic packages at no extra cost. For the last several years, we’ve been working on converting our coax system to fiber optic, making further progress in Graeagle as well as significant progress on the north side of Portola. We are finding the balance between upgrading our current system with the deadlines associated with our grants.
The Purpose of PST PST exists to complement our cooperatively owned electric utility through shared personnel, expertise and cost savings, and to improve the quality of life of our region. We now have approximately 4,500 total customers, but we bring additional benefits through providing wholesale service for several wireless companies as well as two cellular providers. In addition, we’ve brought competition to the region, driving down prices and improving service.
PST is a provider for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Affordable Connectivity Program, which offers a monthly service discount of up to $30 for qualified households. To find out if you are eligible, visit the FCC website. For more information about our telecommunications products, including coverage maps, visit www. pst.coop or call (530) 832-4261.