There is no longer any more broadband Internet cable service available for new customers in Mono County, although there are a few options for some customers.
Suddenlink and Verizon confirmed that they are “at capacity” as of late December.
“We can no longer add any more broadband connections without compromising the current customers,” said Gene Regan, a spokesman for Suddenlink.
“Yes, there is no more broadband available,” said Ed Shinto, Mammoth’s Verizon office manager.
Landline services are not affected.
Shinto said new technologies, smartphones, the immense demand for extremely data-rich video, and business choices have all contributed to the rather sudden lack of available broadband.
“Suddenlink oversold,” he said. “We stopped selling several months ago knowing we were going to run out.”
Bishop is not in the same boat. A fire near Tom’s Place affected a mostly installed cable between Mammoth and Bishop in 2003 and Verizon pulled out, deciding the cost-benefit ratio was no longer in its favor.
Since then, an aging cable has handled the traffic, but with increased demand, the effectiveness has diminished.
There are options, Shinto said.
Customers can buy “aircards” or mobile hotspots through Verizon for about $50 a month. “That will allow access to broadband,” he said.
Solutions common to dense urban areas are not a possibility in Mammoth, he said
But Suddenlink’s Regan would not answer detailed questions about options for Suddenlink’s potential customers, quality issues with current services, or anything else.
“There’s not much more to add,” he said via email. “We serve Mammoth Lakes, and just began doing so in April. We’re partnering with Digital 395, a project of the California Broadband Cooperative, which is working to build the new 583-mile, fiber network along Route 395. Once completed, that network should supply the bandwidth we need for Mammoth Lakes.”
The problem is, the 583-mile broadband “backbone” between Mojave and Carson City that Regan notes above won’t be in place until 2013, with work on the project not even slated to begin until this spring. The $101 million American Reinvestment and Recovery Act project will provide the broadband backbone for the entire eastern side of the Sierra, but private and local carriers will need to link to it to provide the “final mile” connections to homes and businesses; something that could take even more time.
Another issue that many locals, especially Suddenlink customers, are not impressed with is quality.
“It’s slowed down since mid-summer,” said one local, who wished to remain anonymous. “It’s driving me crazy. I can’t watch video without interruption and the speed has really declined.”
Nancy Moore, a second homeowner hoping to get broadband service, is not impressed.
“Why didn’t they anticipate this?” she said. She said she has been at the other end of so many conflicting explanations and solutions, she is no longer sure what is really possible.
“I’m still trying to figure this out.”