Written by Erika Kosina, originally published as a Special to The Union, February 17, 2019. View original article here.
Nevada County is finally getting its first gigabit fiber internet network, and the business community is celebrating.
Race Communications will fulfill a $26.8 million project that will bring fiber to 1,941 homes and businesses along Highway 174 and off of Loma Rica Drive near the airport in western Nevada County. In today’s digital age, faster internet can have an impact on almost every aspect of business operations. Fiber has the potential to increase internet speeds exponentially — at least 20 times faster than what most of us here currently experience with DSL, cable or satellite connections. And 1Gbps is just the beginning. Fiber, unlike the copper wires that currently run throughout the county, has the potential to support speeds of up to 40Gbps.
LOCAL BUSINESSES LIMITED BY INSUFFICIENT INTERNET SPEEDS
Businesses in the corridor that is getting fiber will benefit in myriad ways. Autometrix is a family owned business on Charles Drive in Grass Valley that manufactures fabric cutting tables and precision cutting solutions. Jonathan Palmer, Autometrix’s chief executive officer, is thrilled by the idea of the new service because the internet service he has now limits Autometrix’s ability to do business.
“We have moved a lot of our business to the cloud using G Suite, cloud-based CRMs, etcetera,” said Palmer, “and we definitely experience slower internet speeds as we engage almost everything we do online.
“We have multiple off-site employees, as well as customers around the world, and we have a difficult time using any sort of video conferencing. We haven’t looked at any modern VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone systems because taking any bandwidth for phones that currently goes to the internet would be an issue.”
NEW FIBER NETWORK IS FASTER, BETTER AND CHEAPER
Floracopeia is an e-commerce company situated just off of the airport runway, across Loma Rica from Autometrix. They sell botanical skin care products, flower essences, and essential oils online, and provide health education through online courses. Fiber internet will have a huge impact on their business.
Nikki Hayward, junior Netsuite administrator, manages their back office computer system, which supports their e-commerce storefront.
“The new gigabit fiber would mean annual savings of over $8,000 in internet fees for us,” she said. “It would also enable better call quality and response times for our customer service team, faster processing times for our fulfillment center, and more reliable and clear video conferencing with our remote team members.”
HIGH SPEED INTERNET CRITICAL TO A THRIVING BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT
These businesses have waited a long time for fiber internet. The project started ten years ago when John Paul and Chip Carman of Spiral Internet had a vision to bring high speed fiber optic internet to Nevada County. Their vision would never have come to fruition without tremendous support from the community and several key organizations, including the Sierra Business Council and the Nevada County Economic Resource Council.
“Our mission is to support a thriving business environment in Nevada County,” said Tim Corkins, Nevada County Economic Resource Council treasurer. “High speed internet is a critical piece of that, which is why the (council) has been supporting the high speed internet initiative in Nevada County from the very beginning.”
BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE IN NEVADA COUNTY
Race Communications’ mission is to “bridge the digital divide in California,” and this project has the potential to do just that for Nevada County. Local businesses are severely limited by what they can accomplish with copper internet speeds. Businesses and professionals looking to relocate to Nevada County won’t even consider doing business here without a fast, reliable internet connection. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is changing the way we do everything through the internet of things, requires the same. Technology is changing fast, and everyday activities increasingly rely on the internet. Our county and our local businesses will soon be at a severe disadvantage without fiber internet. We’re all glad it is finally here.