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High-speed Internet is here; But are you ready for it?

Debra Moore
Staff Writer

Fiber optics can provide high-speed Internet, but only if your equipment is ready for it.

“We provided a real high-end connection,” said Brenda Compton, Plumas District Hospital’s information technology director. “We went from providers complaining every single day (about the speed) to no complaints.”

For electronic medical records to be successfully implemented, the hospital needed high-speed Internet. Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications brought the fiber optic line to the hospital, but it was the hospital’s responsibility to make it work.

What does this mean for the homeowner who is hoping to someday have access?

“It depends on the age of the computer, the age of the router,” Compton said. “There is much to consider.”

And it’s not just residences. “C. Roy Carmichael (Elementary School in Portola) has the fiber line, but can’t use it yet because they don’t have the infrastructure,” Compton said.

Plumas Unified School District has earmarked $1.6 million to upgrade its equipment. The adoption of Common Core, a national educational framework that relies heavily on technology in its testing, necessitates network improvements. Work is in progress at the school sites.

Plumas County has invested in its infrastructure, bringing high-speed capabilities to the courthouse, permit center, annex, sheriff’s department, libraries in Portola and Quincy, and, soon, animal control.

The courthouse went from a 6-megabyte connection to 75, while the annex went from 3 to 25.

“It’s much faster; the connection is faster,” said Dave Preston, the county’s director of information technology.

When asked what determines how many megabytes a site receives, Preston said, “We can buy as much bandwidth as we want, but we are matching what we were already paying at each site.”

To prepare the sites for the new fiber optic line, Preston replaced the data circuits. The permit center computers are connected to the courthouse via a fiber cable laid by the county.

Once the animal control facility goes live, then only the facilities services building and public works department will be awaiting high-speed Internet.

When the Quincy library first went live, the patron terminals showed improved speed, but those who wanted to bring their own computers and simply use the library as a Wi-Fi hot spot were disappointed.

“We just upgraded the router,” Preston said, which improved patron high-speed access in the hot spot coverage area.

But it’s not just public agencies that have benefited.

“It’s basically increased our speed over three times,” said Aaron Boigon, vice president and information technology manager for Plumas Bank.

As with the hospital and the school district, Boigon had work to do before implementation. “It’s not just the equipment,” he said. “The best analogy is when you move and need to make a change of address. It takes a lot of planning and a lot of notification. We had to do a lot of work internally.”

Boigon said Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications was a great partner. “Plumas-Sierra has been very quick and responsive,” he said. “I can talk directly with their engineers.”

He credits their accessibility to their size, which allows them to react quickly.

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