Placer County brings reliable internet to rural residents through $2.2-M project

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Placer County’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday has approved a project that will provide a reliable internet connection to rural residents.

Parts of Auburn, North Auburn, and Penryn can get fiber-optic internet following the board’s unanimous vote for a grant for Wave Broadband. The move is part of the goal to equip rural communities with high-speed internet connections.

“We’re extending fiber to the home, which is a very exciting thing for rural communities because you don’t see that very often,” telecommunications manager Dieter Wittenberg said during Tuesday’s meeting.

Some 1, 500 households in Edgehill Road areas in Auburn, Christian Valley Road in North Auburn, and Butler Road in Penryn will benefit from the $2.2-million project.

Placer County’s chief information officer Jarrett Thiessen said the county will pitch in $500, 000 to the undertaking.

“A network build in these service areas is cost-prohibitive without the county’s financial contribution due to the rural nature and rocky terrain,” Thiessen said in a presentation.

Any internet service provider would hesitate to bring the infrastructure to rural communities without the contribution of the county. He said that the project would be too costly in these areas which are too huge and are not that populated.

By October next year, the project is expected to be finished.

“Placer County’s efforts in the broadband arena are far from over,” assistant county executive officer Jane Christenson said.

To finance the project, Placer has also allotted some of its CARES Act budget.

 “This is really the beginning,” Christenson said.

Thiessen said that Placer intends to provide additional grants to companies for establishing broadband infrastructure. The installation of fiber-optic cable, which currently is the fastest broadband internet connection, is what the first grant was focused on, The Sacramento Bee reported.

Most of the rural residents from Auburn, Truckee and Lake Tahoe consider internet connectivity as one of the present issues they have been dealing with.