Plumas‐Sierra Addresses Broadband Challenges in Sierra County

Fiber optics with ethernet cables plugging into switch

Portola, CA (February 1, 2018) – Access to affordable broadband is a crucial component to arresting the loss of jobs and population in Sierra and Plumas counties, and promoting rural economic development. Plumas‐Sierra Telecommunications is addressing the issue, and actively exploring solutions to expand last‐mile coverage in the region, as well as exploring new technologies and avenues to further advance broadband deployment.

PST is a subsidiary of Plumas‐Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative. Bob Marshall, chief executive officer, explains, “Part of electric and telecommunications cooperatives’ mission is to bring key services to Rural America.

“We understand, where the internet was once an amenity, it has become a must‐have—much like electricity in the 1930’s. We are devoted to resolving the issue of poor internet connectivity in the region.”

PST began building a mid‐mile, fiber‐optic network backbone from Reno, Nevada, north to Susanville and west to Portola, Quincy, and Loyalton, California in 2012, with the help of grants through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the California Advanced Services Fund, and a commitment from several local anchor institutions.

To date, PST has constructed more than 200‐miles of fiber optic network, purchased abandoned TV coaxial cable systems and added wireless technologies to help address costs and a variety of challenges created by different topographical elements in the region.

One of PST’s major goals in expanding broadband in the region is to create jobs and boost the economy by allowing existing businesses to expand, while attracting new businesses to the region.

While the company has been able to construct fiber connections to many businesses, fiber construction to rural homes is generally not economically feasible, because of lack of home density and other challenges.