The Digital 395 Middle Mile Project

A 583-mile fiber network that mainly follows the U.S. Route 395 highway


Much of the region between Carson City, Nevada and Barstow, California, has limited, insufficient broadband middle mile capabilities, dependent on decades-old telephone infrastructure, leaving wide swaths of the Eastern Sierra region of California and Nevada unserved.

Digital 395 Middle Mile 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. Unused, high-capacity fiber will be available to the region’s last mile providers to expand or enhance service to households and businesses; as well as to government agencies or carriers seeking local or long-haul transport.

The Digital 395 Middle Mile also proposes to:

California Broadband Cooperative

Serve up to 237 committed community anchor institutions, including 35 public safety entities, 47 K-12 schools, 13 libraries, 2 community colleges, and 2 universities, the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory, Caltech’s Owens Valley Radio Observatory, and White Mountain Research Station, 15 healthcare facilities and 104 government offices.

Digital 395

Spur affordable broadband access for local consumers and businesses, including approximately 26,000 households and 2,500 businesses by enabling local Internet service providers to utilize the project’s open network. At least five existing broadband providers plan to utilize the middle mile network to expand their services.

Praxis Asscociates

Enable access to educational, medical and commercial applications for isolated populations on seven Indian reservations: Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley; Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation; Fort Independence Reservation; Benton Paiute Tribe; Bishop Paiute Tribe; Bridgeport Indian Colony; Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California.

Organization History

California Broadband Cooperativeis a newly established entity for the purpose of developing and operating the Digital 395 network.

As a public-private partnership among local and state agencies, organized labor and for-profit companies, it is the best organizational form that ensures representation by a wide range of interests in the Eastern Sierra. Praxis Associates, one of the key partners, has been designing and constructing fiber networks, as well as providing advanced network services to businesses and Indian reservations, throughout California for 5 years. Another key partner, Inyo Networks, is an existing telecommunications provider and will be responsible for management and business operations of the network.

Project Partners

Project Benefits

Eastern Sierras

Benefits to Telephone Service Providers: Digital 395 will interconnect to all telephone central offices in the region. Since Verizon has only one cable route coming from the south, the proposed project will create fail-safe route diversity for all regional communications by connecting at Carson City in the North and Barstow in the South.

Benefits to Long-Haul Service Providers: Digital 395 adds a cost-effective alternative Internet Backhaul route between Southern California/Nevada (I-15) to Reno (I-80).

Benefits to Cable Service Providers: According to our interviews with these providers, CATV last mile networks have the capacity to support up to as much as 50mbps, but the current high cost of backhaul prevents them from economically using it for end user benefit. Digital 395 will allow them to grow their systems into other areas, improve transmission, and offer much faster cable modem services.

Benefits to Wireless Providers: Wireless Service Providers (WISPs) challenges are similar to CATV, but in the more remote areas. Since collocation and tower space will be available at the 15 points on the route, the project lowers barriers to entry to new service providers, creating a level playing field and promoting service-based competition. The network will also provide backhaul support to Cellular providers, along the entire US395 route –which currently has many areas without cellular service. The network will also support the growth of G3 and G4 wireless data for many of the newer “smart phones” and wireless devices.

Benefits to Community Facilities, Anchor Institutions, and Public Safety:The proposed project will bring secure, redundant communications to all institutions in Eastern Sierra. Digital 395 supports the Southern Sierra Telehealth Network, which intends to deliver 10Mbps to all of the hospitals in the region and at least T1s to all Rural Clinics over the proposed infrastructure. The project provides economic transport to CalREN, the California Research and Education Network, to serve the region’s schools and libraries with 10-100mbps connectivity. It will link all first-responder organizations into a common infrastructure, as well as support teleconferencing and telemedicine applications to reduce travel costs and help local government meet California’s recently legislated Carbon Emission targets. The project provides vital communications to the USMC’s remote training center in Pickle Meadows and the Navy’s China Lake radar facilities.

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