Help us help you: Bringing Broadband to the Sierra

Kelsey Pearl

Kelsey Pearl

Gold Country Broadband Consortium Intern

The past year demonstrated the resilience of the Sierra, but also highlighted the unequal access to broadband, making remote education, telehealth, and business operations difficult—in some cases impossible. While broadband access has evolved into a basic need for everyone, it’s not accessible to many.

As a student at UC Berkeley who suddenly found myself learning through my laptop, I know first hand how essential broadband access has become to our daily lives. Unfortunately, many of my peers struggled to access stable internet—costing them time, money, and their education. Although this problem isn’t unique, it is highly disruptive to many people’s lives. In sparsely populated communities throughout the Sierra, internet service providers (ISPs) often find it too costly to bring their service to the “last mile.”

The number of homes without last-mile broadband access is under-counted, as well as homes that are being served with broadband speeds less than functional. Depending on what you are doing, your device might need access to higher speeds in order to operate smoothly. As learning and working from home is now the new normal, homes need internet speeds fast enough to support video streaming, conferencing, and downloading large files.

Here at Sierra Business Council, we work closely with counties in making broadband access equitable to all. Through our Gold Country Broadband Consortium program, we work with Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Sierra, and East Alpine counties, but it is vital that we know which areas are underserved.

How you can help:

If you experience unreliable internet please go to our Gold Country Broadband Consortium webpage and take the CalSPEED test. The results of this test help document the gaps in the California Broadband Coverage Map. While this map might indicate that an area is being served, this speed test will determine if your connection does not meet the state minimum definition of acceptable speed.

Next, record your results in the google form here. This provides us with real-time information we need to jumpstart projects and match the “underserved” and “unserved” pockets of the Sierra to ISPs and funding opportunities.

If you’re having difficulty taking the test or you don’t have the ability to get internet service at your home, you can notify the CPUC directly by filling out the form available here and mailing it to the CPUC. Directions are available on the form.

If you have any questions, please contact Kari Sinoff at (530)562-4992 or ksinoff@sierrabusiness.org

Thank you for participating—We can’t do it without you.

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