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The Eastern Sierra Connect project is:

Evaluating existing broadband (i.e., internet) infrastructure and potential future structure through a demand aggregation project in the Mono, Inyo and Eastern Kern counties.

Successful broadband use depends on more than infrastructure availability. Our broadband project model identifies five focus areas:  access to broadband; applications that need broadband;  affordability of broadband; accessibility by people with special needs; and assistance needed (training, hardware, etc.) to effectively use broadband.

Not the Digital 395 stimulus award, but a separate demand project aimed at encouraging existing and potential providers to build local broadband to unserved and underserved communities in the Eastern Sierra region.

Eastern Sierra Connect helps identify the unserved and underserved communities that need broadband connectivity and what broadband technologies might be appropriate and affordable to residents and businesses. The final report provides a way to inform and educate the Eastern Sierra Connect region regarding requirements and benefits of broadband. Results of the project will be offered as supporting evidence of growth opportunities for existing and potential regional providers. Those providers may choose to utilize the Digital 395 backbone once it is built. More information about the Digital 395 project including the proposal and budget can be found at the NTIA website.

Important because broadband availability in rural areas such as the Eastern Sierra is typically insufficient or nonexistent. 

The lack of providers/service, lack of adequate bandwidth/speed, and excessive costs to meet the needs is described as the digital divide.  Providing the broadband infrastructure necessary for adequate availability over vast, sparsely populated service areas that are environmentally and geographically challenging does not appear a good fit with the national investment models of broadband providers.

Conducting focus groups, surveys and community meetings with different sectors and demographic groups to determine needs and barriers of local residents. 

The public outreach portion of the program will begin in March and end in June.

Mapping the existing infrastructure and identify gaps in service within the three-county region, by identifying and consolidating existing data from state and local sources. 

The information will be used to develop alternatives, and ultimately a preferred alternative for providing broadband service to the region. This phase will include working with existing broadband providers to verify information and discuss the feasibility of the alternative scenarios.  The final report and suggested infrastructure scenarios are scheduled for release in September, 2011.

 

Funded by the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF).                                                            Feb 2011