Local Internet service providers are beginning to roll out new, faster Internet services available through the Digital 395 broadband network but local businesses are not getting the same treatment as residential customers.
When Praxis completed the Digital 395 project Oct. 31, residents almost immediately had access to Internet speeds 10-20 times faster than what had been available for years. However, businesses with Internet access did not receive automatic upgrades to faster speeds and are still operating at their pre-Digital 395 speeds.
For example, residents who use Suddenlink’s base package began receiving upgraded bandwidth free of charge, with the company offering even faster speeds for upgraded plans. Lone Pine Television is also planning to begin offering faster speeds for its customers in the near future.
But so far, no deals have been advertised for local businesses, who might have to negotiate for faster speeds through their contracts with their providers.
“We have been providing phone and high-speed Internet services for business customers in Bishop and Mammoth Lakes with Internet download speed of up to 12 Megabits per second and an upload speed of up to 2 Mbps,” Suddenlink Senior Director of Communications Gene Regan said. “We plan to announce faster speeds to our business customers who bundle our phone and data services sometime early next year.”
Regan also said that, with Digital 395 complete, Suddenlink does have the ability to offer greater bandwidth packages. “For business customers with special needs, we work with them to provide faster speeds,” he said.
Eastern Sierra Regional Connect Broadband Consortium Project Manager Julie Langou said, “Suddenlink has done a tremendous job in their broadband residential offering and we are astonished that they did not align their business offering.”
The ESRBC is a group of local residents and business owners who have joined forces to prepare for the Digital 395 roll-out and brainstorm ideas on how residents and business owners countywide can utilize the faster Internet speeds to grow their businesses.
Currently, Suddenlink is not making its price schedule for business upgrades available to the public, but Langou pointed out that all its business packages are contract-based, and customized depending on the needs of the business.
Langou said any business owner who would like faster Internet speeds should research prices and consider contacting their service provider to see when faster speeds may be available.
She also said that anyone who feels their Internet prices are too high is welcome to contact the ESCRB.
“One of the main missions of the consortium is to ‘encourage providers and local organizations to deploy appropriate and affordable technology to connect communities,’” Langou said.
Langou and the ESCRB may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org  or (760) 264-4243.