Connecting to the outside world
Similar to the 1930s when rural Americans lived without electricity, many rural families were without television 50 years later, relying on radio and newsprint as their primary source of information for weather and news. Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications began offering C-Band Satellite TV service to rural customers in underserved communities in 1987. PST formed when its parent company, Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative—an innovative provider of Internet and telecommunications services continually striving to meet critical needs in its community—joined the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative. Both companies are located in Plumas County on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. As technology advanced, PST provided DIRECTV satellite television service to local communities in 1994 through its partnership with NRTC until July 15, 2011, when its local servicer agreement expired.
Paving the digital highway
PST launched the first dial-up Internet service in the Quincy and Portola area in 1995, and brought high-speed capability to customers in 2003 as broadband became a virtual requirement for Internet use. Two years later, again teaming with NRTC, PST delivered broadband satellite Internet to customers via WildBlue. PST installed more than 5,000 customers nationwide in the first year, becoming the nation’s number one provider of WildBlue satellite Internet service. PST launched an additional high-speed Internet service option in local communities in 2007 called Plumas-Sierra Wireless. PST became an Authorized Retailer of Verizon Wireless from 2008 through 2010.
Closing the digital divide
PST began construction of a 198-mile fiber optic network from Reno, Nevada north to Susanville, California and west to Quincy, California after receiving grants through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and the California Advanced Services Fund in July of 2010. The middle-mile fiber optic project is the result of a collaborative effort of partners within the region. PST and the Plumas County Office of Education—with assistance from the Center of Economic Development and California State University Chico—organized broadband deployment meetings throughout the region to discover the need for broadband and gather commitments from anchor institutions. PST began serving anchor institutions—including schools, colleges, libraries, county offices, hospitals, the Herlong Army Depot and other businesses throughout Plumas, Lassen and Sierra counties—in the latter part of 2013 through the fiber optic network, following completion of the construction project. Expansion of the fiber optic network continues in the region as businesses request service. PST’s incremental approach of constructing to businesses enables the company to grow its footprint steadily. The mid-mile fiber optic project serves as the core communications infrastructure for the region and provides the area with a secure, vital link to the outside world.
Continuing the mission to serve
PST continues its commitment to the community through Wi-Fi hotspots. To date, a total of 15 community hotspots have been set up in Quincy, Graeagle, Cromberg, Portola, Loyalton, Herlong and Susanville. PST is working with local public-sector facilities to deliver broadband and improve current services. PST and Plumas County Sheriff’s Office collaborated to update the PCSO microwave system and provide redundancy for PST’s fiber network. As a result, the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office expressed interest in similar efforts to improve its current system. PST will continue to develop these partnerships as the business grows. PST’s improved microwave presence on regional mountain tops and expansion of the fiber network gave the company the opportunity to offer cell-service providers large amounts of bandwidth to improve their networks and coverage areas. Subsequently, local residents and tourists are now experiencing 4G service in much of the area.