digital 395“What is the deal with the internet in Mammoth Lakes?”  This is a question I hear nearly every busy weekend.  Tourists do not understand why they cannot quickly update their status on Facebook or upload photos to Instagram.  I quickly explain the area is dependent on decades-old telephone infrastructure and limited insufficient broadband capabilities.  I assure them it will be better “soon.”

The good news is we are closer than ever to having a new fiber network.  The bad news is the deadlines have passed with very little communication or updates from the project managers.  Both local newspapers (Mammoth Times and The Sheet) reported last week that we are only weeks away from realizing lightening fast speeds.   Please let this forecast become reality.  There are times when the internet is so slow I can not complete the paperwork for a new sale – seriously, just opening the on-line purchase agreement took over 30 minutes!  Imagine the challenge for local hospitals, emergency providers and general business.

Mammoth Lakes is a tourist destination and the more tourists the slower the speed.  This seriously impacts businesses.  Recently I was at a local store making a purchase and the owner could not run my credit card because the internet was not responding.  She asked if I could write a check – when is the last time you wrote a check?!   The closer we get to the faster speeds the more my patience is tested.  Is the internet really getting slower each day or is it my imagination?  What I do know is the local providers cannot add any new subscribers so if you buy a property we recommend the seller and buyer coordinate a billing change instead of disconnecting service.  Craziness – isn’t this 2013?

Okay, enough venting.  I love living in a small mountain resort town and this is just one of the challenges (along with only one grocery store with astronomical prices).  The good far outweighs the challenges and this internet situation will soon be history.    Time to remind myself of the massive scope of this project.   Digital 395 project is building a new 583-mile, fiber network that mainly follows the U.S. Route 395 highway, a major transportation corridor between southern and northern California, which passes through Nevada. The project’s service area encompasses 36 communities, six Indian reservations and two military bases. The contractor has to deal with dozens of government agencies and many culturally and environmentally sensitive areas.

When completed wireless service of all kinds should be greatly improved. Not only will we be able to quickly update our Facebook status but we will be able to get business done.  I look forward to a collective community celebration when we have ‘big city” internet speeds as so many locals are dependent upon a quality Internet connection for their livelihood.

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