Construction crews continue to work on the Digital 395 project as Internet providers begin to test their connections and prepare to offer faster Internet speeds â hopefully by the end of November. Photo by Darcy Ellis
Local Internet providers are testing connections with Digital 395 and hope to be providing more bandwidth to residents by Thanksgiving at the latest.
According to Praxis Associates President Mike Ort, only small portions on the fiber-optic backbone still need to be built. Those sections are located on National Forest land. Ort said construction crews need the go-ahead from the Forest Service to proceed, and the government shutdown has severed communication with those officials.
He said he hopes the problem will be resolved soon.
Despite that hold-up, Ort said Internet service providers in Mammoth and Bishop want to ensure that the network is running smoothly before increased bandwidth begins flowing into homes.
âWe just received the circuit yesterday afternoon,â SuddenLink Senior Director of Corporate Communications Gene Regan said last Friday. âWe now must test the circuit, and that testing process (done right) takes up to two weeks. If everything checks out during testing, we should be in position to launch faster speeds shortly thereafter.â
If not, Regan said, SuddenLink will work with Digital 395 to address any issues and launch faster speeds as soon as the network is ready.
Ort said that Praxis does not expect to find any issues with the network during the test phase. âTypically, when you put in a new network, you want to do what we call âsoakâ the equipment to make sure its working,â Ort explained. âElectronics, if itâs going to give out, itâs going to give out early, not like mechanical stuff that gives out over time.â Basically, the Internet providers are linking into the network and running the system to identify bugs.
construction complete on the Forest.â
Ort said the network is complete in Independence and Big Pine.
Construction crews are still working in Lone Pine, the Crowley Lake area and in the June Lake Loop.
Ort explained that the original game plan for Digital 395 was to have the system up and running by this past August, but delays in permitting (which continue) have held up construction in some areas. He explained that, with a project of this size, road blocks are to be expected.
âIâve never seen a network of this size go in this fast. All our buildings are built, all our electronics are in,â Ort said. âBut we donât want to âŠ turn everyone onâ before the system has been properly tested.
âBy Christmas (at the latest) the whole region will have a very nice Christmas presentâ in the form for greater Internet connectivity and a looped system that will prevent service loss, Ort said.
âItâs like doing a beta trial,â Ort said. âWeâre just making sure everything is working.â
Ort said he is confident that the Digital 395 network will be up and running in Bishop and Mammoth by Thanksgiving. All of Inyo Countyâs service providers should be hooked up to the network by Christmas at the latest.
He said that local schools and hospitals should be connected to the system by Nov. 1. Ort explained that local schools will go from a 1.5 megabit connection to 100 megabits. Hospitals will be receiving a 1 gigabit (1,000 megabits) connection that will allow them to provide telemedicine services.
âWe are still waiting on permits in a couple of areas,â Ort said. âWeâve always been throttled by permits. We are waiting for the state to approve (California Environmental Quality Act documents) to construct out to Round Valley. By Halloween we should have