In July 2019, the Board of Supervisors approved a contract with Sierra Business Council (SBC) to develop and administer a Last-Mile Broadband Grant Pilot Program. Specifically, the Board allocated $225,000 for the pilot program to fund broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas of the County.
In late 2019, the SBC opened-up the application period to allow for ISPs and other developers to submit applications for last-mile Broadband development in Nevada County. SBC has received three applications which are now posted on the County's website at https://www.mynevadacounty.com/2894/Broadband-Grant-Applications-2020 for public comment until January 17,, 2020. Public comments will be taken into consideration by SBC when evaluating all three applications. Once all three applications have been evaluated, SBC will present to the Board their recommendations on the grant's awardees.
Broadband infrastructure development is defined in three segments: 1) Backbone, 2) Middle-Mile, and 3) Last-Mile. Backbone refers to the major high-speed transmission line that strategically links smaller high-speed internet networks across the globe. Middle-Mile refers to the connection between the Backbone and the Last-Mile. Last-Mile refers to connecting the end-user or customer's home or business to a local network provider. The development of Last-Mile transmission networks is the most cost prohibitive component of broadband expansion in Nevada County. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will only develop Last-Mile networks if there are enough end-user ratepayers in a given location to justify the upfront costs of development or if infrastructure development is subsidized in some capacity. Due to the lack of density of end-user ratepayers in the rural areas of the county, costs of development is the largest deterrent for ISP investment to expand existing networks. The Last-Mile Broadband Grant Pilot Program is to help subsidize the development of Last-Mile Broadband infrastructure in the County to promote and support economic development.
Economic Development Board Priority
It is a 2019 Board of Supervisors Priority to support job-enhancing economic development with an emphasis on infrastructure that expands or preserves commerce and provides leadership and coordination opportunities to bring funding sources and community partnerships together including ERC, SBC, RCRC, CSAC and USDA.