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Rural Yuba County, Calif., to See Fiber Network Expansion

Yuba County officials have partnered with SiFi Networks to bring a new fiber-optics network to the rural towns of Linda, Olivehurst and Plumas Lake. The project is expected to decrease Internet costs.

(TNS) — High-speed, fiber optic Internet is coming to Linda, Olivehurst and Plumas Lake.

As part of an ongoing effort to improve connectivity in the Yuba-Sutter area, officials with Yuba County have partnered with SiFi Networks to bring a fiber optics network to rural towns.

The telecommunications company is privately funding the installation and long-term maintenance of fiber lines to the outer areas of Yuba County. Installation, development, construction and upkeep for these lines will come at no cost to the municipalities or taxpayers, the Appeal previously reported.

After installing a middle mile broadband connection, the fiber lines will be leased to local Internet service providers, said Ian Scott, project manager of broadband in Yuba County. This will give residents stronger access to Internet connections and open more competitive options for service providers who previously could not operate in these areas.

Similar network developments are in the works for Yuba City and Marysville. SiFi Networks initiated a partnership with Yuba City in September 2021 before planning an expansion across Yuba County. Scott cited growing concerns over a lack of reliable Internet access in multiple parts of the county as motivation to accept SiFi Network's offer.

"After realizing through my role as a broadband project manager that there had been concerns about a lack of Internet access in quite a few parts of the project area, (partnership) made sense given the current context of the broadband state and federal grants that are coming down the pipeline and the direction we've received from the board to prioritize any future broadband projects that would be publicly funded out in the foothills and other areas," Scott said.

Fiber optic expansion to rural areas within the county would not be possible without an established agreement between SiFi Networks, Yuba City and Marysville.

"Yuba City has already approved SiFi to install a similar network in their community. We are able to piggyback on Yuba City's contract. Without that contract, Yuba City is not large enough to make an attractive enough site to do so," Marysville City Manager Jim Schaad said previously.

SiFi Networks has been given permission by the county to install fiber lines in public right-of-ways along major roads in project areas. Construction in Linda, Olivehurst and Plumas Lake is expected to begin in 2023. SiFi Networks will have up to five years to complete the fiber optic installation, Scott said.

Upon completion of the expansion project, monthly Internet fees are expected to decrease in Linda, Olivehurst and Plumas Lake as more service providers become readily available.

According to the Yuba County Strategic Master Broadband Plan, 96.3% of households have access to no more than two out of the nine Internet service providers that are currently available across the county.

The report says that major connectivity improvements need to be made in these project areas to further future housing and commercial development and to coordinate infrastructure plans. It also cites broadband Internet access as a necessity for education facilities and students in the wake of distanced learning and the implementation of technology within physical classrooms.

Expanding fiber optic networks will significantly impact historically underserved areas by providing equitable Internet access, Scott said.

©2022 the Appeal-Democrat, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.