CC Communications, the last county-owned phone company in the country and the first company to provide rural Nevadans with Fiber to the Home gigabyte broadband (FTTH), is expanding service into Elko County.
The construction project began in August and will provide the infrastructure that will take FTTH to the community of Spring Creek as well as downtown Elko. With a population of 13,000, Spring Creek is located southeast of the Elko city limits.
Mark Feest, the general manager of CC Communications, has led an aggressive expansion effort over the past several years, growing the company to include over 700 route miles of backbone fiber connecting datacenter assets from Las Vegas to the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center outside of Reno, as well as a fiber hotel point of presence (PoP) in Reno. This infrastructure creates a robust fiber network with the capacity and redundancy to handle the needs of the Churchill County community and now the Elko communities.
Expanding broadband services and access to the internet for rural communities has been a top priority for elected officials and federal agencies over the past decade. The United States Department of Agriculture alone, made $550 million in funding available in 2020 to deploy high-speed broadband internet infrastructure across rural America.
For the Elko County communities, expansion of internet access has been a long-standing project. The community has suffered with slow speeds and limited access, slowing the capacity for economic development and business growth.
CC Communications will use the opportunity provided by a Southwest Gas expansion in the Spring Creek area to install fiber while the construction takes place and the trench is open.
“Being Nevada’s oldest Fiber to the Home provider, as well as a rural Nevada company,” said Feest, “we understand what it takes to deliver world class service.”
He says CC Communications will use an all-fiber network with speeds up to 1 gigabyte per second (1Gbps) in Elko County, while CC Communications continues to build out fiber to the remaining 10% of Churchill County locations on copper. All plans have no data caps. Although COVID-19 has slowed progress due to supply chain slowdowns, CC Communications anticipates turning up the first Elko County broadband customer in the first quarter of 2021, while continuing the final stages of converting copper customers to fiber in Churchill County. With a backhaul capacity sized to prevent slowdowns during peak hours, they can also provide local technicians and local decision-making. He says the company operates with an internal culture of customer service, and employees take pride in that mindset.
CC Communications uses a Nevada-based workforce and contracts with NNE, a local company that opened an additional office in Fallon after being founded in Elko. “NNE has been our construction contractor for over fifteen years and has always provided best in class utility construction practices that ensure the highest quality foundation for our services,” said Feest.
Pete Olsen, chairman of the Churchill County Commission, spoke recently during a commission meeting about the importance of CC Communications to the community. He recognized how important this technology is to attract new industry, provide education to the community youth, and for local businesses to hold their own across the globe.
“The Spring Creek expansion represents a major opportunity for our home-grown company, CC Communications,” Olsen said. “We are currently providing the best rural broadband coverage in the United States right here in Churchill County, and the Spring Creek expansion provides us an opportunity to provide this great service to another rural community.”
Not unlike the decisions that were made in 1889 to provide Churchill County with telegraph services, the current expansion projects are on the cutting edge of community service.