Fear Not–These Helicopters are Your Friends

The helicopters that will be buzzing along Highway 36 are not your terror ridden CAMP helicopters from earlier summers.  These are bringing tidings of good news to Humboldt Co.  For a long time Humboldt has been trying to provide redundant high speed broadband services to our area and Three Phase Line, Inc has contracted to instal fiber optic cable roughly along Highway 36 from Cottonwood to Eureka.  The plan is to begin the project tomorrow Tuesday, May 31st (the day after Memorial Day) and complete it by September 30 of this year.

According to the press release:

The work consists of attaching fiber optic cable to existing PG&E infrastructure, replacing, upgrading
and/or moving some existing PG&E infrastructure, site restoration and site improvement. Land
vehicles as well as helicopters will be utilized daily as modes for accessing the transmission line right
of way.

Regular working hours fall be between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through
Friday, with occasional work on Saturdays, except holidays. Access to properties via public
roads will be maintained at all times for local residents, business, and emergency services
(Police, Fire, Ambulatory, etc.).

Although some inconvenience may be unavoidable, we intend to do what we can to minimize
whatever impact the construction activities may cause you.

Got any worries?  Once construction starts you can contact the Project Manager, Ed Greenfield at (415) 962-9520.


Since Hank is better at figuring out how to make the photo the right size, I borrowed his version.



  • The big question I have is – will they be providing taps along that fiber for the communities it runs through so that Bridgeville, Dinsmore, etc will have a connection to the internet, or is it just passing through with no connection point for the communities through which it travels and thus benefiting the Humboldt Bay communities only? I truly hope that they allow connection points, but my experience has been that they never do. I watched them do this along Highway 96, putting a fiber right through my front yard in my house in Happy Camp, but NO CONNECTION ANYWHERE for the town.

  • Hi Greg. You ask a very important question. Folks who live along the existing fiber optic route through SoHum know that simply having cable run through your neighborhood doesn’t mean you will have access to that service. We were very aware of that concern, and we worked to ensure that proposed projects would provide service to unserved communities along the way.

    To do this, IP Networks is partnering with 101 Netlink to provide ‘last-mile’ service to 527 unserved or underserved households along the route, including the communities of Bridgeville, Mad River, Dinsmore and Ruth. Those customers will get minimum download speeds of 4 Mbps, and minimum upload speeds of 1.5 Mbps.

  • Mark, thanks for the response! I am glad that there is some plan in the works for connectivity along the route. The problem with Seth’s solution via 101 Netlink is that it is very “line of sight” limited in a mountainous and forested environment, but certainly better than nothing. The GB cap/quota imposed by 101 Netlink is also VERY limiting, no Netflix or other streaming services for anybody on a 101 Netlink connection. Only enough bandwidth allotted for email and simple browsing. It is sort of a 20th century compromise in the 21st century. I would rather see an actual link to copper services via DSL at each town it passes through, with higher and more reasonable GB quotas for service. I guess we take what we can get.

  • Greg, I have 101 Netlink. I’m not sure the service is the same offered to the communities out there as it is to me but our family is very happy with the situation. We don’t do Netflix. And we do have to pay for going over 5gigabites but for a rural connection, it is the best I’ve seen.

    Also, I asked Mary-Lou Smulders of IP Networks, Inc. your question (which Mark has answered already) She added some information. According to her,

    “Actual wire will likely not come in until august. Believe it or not all the prep work is the most arduous and time consuming (for example: replacing decaying poles, adding attachment hardware and peaks to poles, clearing & reinforcing service roads, creating laydown areas for materials, bringing in materials, etc. )

    As for service along the route: yes, this is a part of the project. The “last-mile” service provider is a local wisp called 101netlink (http://www.101netlink.com/communitiesserved.html). You can also let your readers know that the company also responds to demand for additional service area expansion. “

    • Kym, I do not mean to disparage 101 Netlink, they offer a vitally needed rural service. I am glad IP Networks has engage them to provide last mile service along the route. I would be even happier if IP Networks stated that each home buying service would get a 25GB minimum service quota for a standard fee of $50/month or so due to the ready availability of bandwidth along the fiber route, as stipulated in the 101 Netlink contract.

      I also live in a rural community, on a cell modem with the same 5GB limit you have to stay within (one difference is I cannot pay more for more GB, they just shut me off when passing the limit). My cell WIFI is also three+ times slower than the service provided by 101 Netlink, I would much rather have 101 Netlink service, but there is no line of sight for their service to my house as of yet.

      The thing is, with the 5GB limit from either service, a great part of the internet is simply not available. I don’t even dare run updates on my OS for fear of using up my quota, let alone streaming anything of size.

      The digital divide will continue to discriminate against rural America until we have at least close to the bandwidth quota and speed that our more urban neighbors enjoy, on the same wires and fibers running through our lands to their city homes and businesses. This is a national problem, not just one for our county.

      It is also very much a U.S. problem, they recognize the internet as a right, not a privilege, in many parts of the EU and elsewhere. Other countries require internet access in a similar fashion to electricity or telephone service to each home. Utilities are not allowed to “skim the cream” and just serve the dense neighborhoods, they serve all or none, and with minimum speeds and bandwidth quotas for all.

      Again, I don’t want to sound like sour grapes, IP Networks is doing more than 90% of the companies laying fiber in the USA, and 101 Netlink is a quality provider for rural neighborhoods. They deserve a thank you from all the rural communities that will get service where none existed before. It could be better, but it could also be a whole lot worse.

  • Greg, 101 Netlink commits to a 3-year fixed price to residential customers of $55 per month for the first 5 gigabytes delivered and $10 per month more for each additional 4 gigabytes.

    • Mark that is the same deal I have and I am infinitely happier with 101 Netlink than I have been with any other service available around here. That being said, I’m with Greg. Rural residents are underserved with internet services. And we are going to fall further and further behind in the technological divide unless something is done about it. Not to over amp the unjustness of it but just as how gender inequality deprives society of the productivity of half its members, so too does technological inequality deprive our society particularly our county of much needed productivity.Internet is a necessity that rural and urban residents need equal access to. (And hey, I may not need to watch Netflix but I’d sure like to.)

  • Most phones get like 2 gigs for 3 hours of movies. Netflix Canada has a setting that does 9 hours that ain’t in ours yet.

    101Netlink is hella better than cellular or Hughes.

    Greg, if you are like the rest of us, you got some kinna antenna to get cellular downloads. If you getting slow internet, you are prolly pointing it wrong. Dunno where you stay at or if you stay in a RV or whatever so let’s run it down.

    Near Garberville, the Godzilla Verizon tower is about two miles southwest and the mega US Cellular tower is one mile west. Those cover hella distance, so if you use either just point at one of those.

    AT&T has some towers on top of Alder Pt. AT&T has another tower west of Benbow but it only pushes edge, 3G you gotta be pointed right at it.


    • Thanks for the info! I am using a MIFI – don’t think you can put an antenna on one of those, but if you know a way, I am interested. I get ok speeds out of it for a cell MIFI, about 400 to 600k down on a good day. Not all days are good days.

      • Mifi got fake ports. Ports are on the back but if you plug antennas in, they don’t do anything. Prolly was just in the original design but never got used.

        Those $400 setups where you got one antenna on the roof pointed at the cell tower and then a second antenna inside pointed away from the cell tower would work.

        Got two of those here, one for voice at the house and then one for 3G in the truck. The one on the truck is alright but not like about to use GPS while driving, got to stop and adjust it out the window. Once you hit Sonoma, it’s all five bars with a truck mount.

  • Phillipsville/Meyers Flat has hella little towers everywhere. The bigger one is up off Cathey Rd.

    Shelter Cove also has little towers and if you live there who knows why you having speed issues.

    Ettersburg you got to get up on the roof and hit either southeast or ssw to get good signal.

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