Lander County Economic Development Authority Coordinator Kyla Bright recently met with the Nevada Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology and stated they are requesting residents and business owners to complete an important survey regarding broadband services to be brought into the Battle Mountain area.

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) and Congressman Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.-20) introduced the ACCESS BROADBAND Act in April of this year, which is legislation that fosters the development and growth of broadband resources for businesses as well as underserved communities, such as rural communities in Lander County.

A press release from Cortez Masto states, “The ACCESS BROADBAND Act requires the Department of Commerce to establish the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The bill aims to streamline processes for entities such as schools, small businesses and local communities to access federal broadband resources through a simplified application process and better oversight of federal broadband support programs.”

Cortez Masto emphasized the need for access to high quality broadband. “Far too many communities across Nevada still lack access to high speed broadband. The ACCESS BROADBAND Act enhances the federal government’s ability to support the expansion of wireless services and broadband infrastructure essential to helping underserved communities in Nevada, and across America get connected. I look forward to acting on this legislation to lay the groundwork for 5G networks that serve the needs of first responders, businesses and local school districts that need fast, reliable internet,” said Cortez Masto.

Bright said Austin has already completed their grant cycle to get broadband into their school, and already have providers willing to bring in the services for their residents and businesses. 

Of Battle Mountain, Bright said, “The schools and library, and I believe the hospital, are on board. We are hopefully — as a county, depending on the survey — going to come in and do some work on the back end for the residents and businesses. It’s important to get that survey out and to the public.” 

Bright added, “Someone asked me how many people we need to fill this survey out, and the short answer is, ‘everybody.’ And that’s because service providers look at the money they’re going to make in the community. Many people have said we need better services here. And that goes for broadband, how much it’s going to cost to lay the conduit and get that fiber into these areas. The more we can prove to them that we need their services here, the better.” 

Battle Mountain Real Estate Broker Quincee Heinz asked, “Will that include Hilltop?”

Bright said, “I don’t know if the actual fiber will go out there or not. I need to ask the Governor’s Office when we talk about that. They bring in so many strands of fiber to places like the library, the hospital, the schools; and then there’s extra. They’ll only use a few, and the rest of it can be distributed to people who are in proximity of those areas. And that’s basically what we are trying to find out, how many of the residents in that area can benefit from those fibers already coming in.” 

Because the survey asks for an address, it will make a difference, stated Bright, and anyone in the county, regardless of where they live, can fill out the survey. 

Jesse Katsaris, the owner of Northern Nevada Internet Service, stated he is constantly upgrading his equipment, and said construction on a 10-gig circuit is presently in the works.

Katsaris agreed that available speeds are affected by a lack of broadband and equipment in the area. “To get to fiber, construction costs are massive. If there was more fiber and they did not make it so difficult to get to, then yes,” said Katsaris. 

“Currently we are working with some wonderful people at 25 Ranch in Battle Mountain, and they are giving us access to some mountaintops. We are actually in the process of putting up three new towers surrounding Battle Mountain. Our main circuit is getting upgraded to 10 gig, which is more than Battle Mountain will ever think about using,” stated Katsaris.

“Currently we have one gig in Battle Mountain, and we are upgrading it to 10 gig. We are hopping onto the fiber next to the freeway. There’s fiber next to the freeway going from California all the way to Salt Lake City, and CenturyLink is the owner of that and does all their fiber-providing through Level 3, a transport company. Level 3, owned by CenturyLink, provides the access to the fiber,” explained Katsaris.

It is significantly more expensive for Katsaris to get fiber for 10 gig, but he said it can be done, and as for cost, he stated he would break even until he gets more customers.

Katsaris said his job is a challenge. “I’m not in this business for the money. I really like the fact that I can get very fast Internet in awkward and strange places. Some of the stuff we’re doing now with the radios and towers we have, the company who makes our radios tells me it can’t be done, and that’s the fun part for me – it’s kind of cool. I lived in Pershing County where we had nothing for Internet, and I got tired of that, so I started NNIS. I had family and friends in Battle Mountain, and I brought it here. It’s fun, I get to build stuff, and it’s a challenge for me. We’re trying to bring faster speed, and the goal with the fiber upgrade is to provide the faster speeds at the same cost as in a city.”

Bright said the survey will take less than two minutes to complete and can be easily found at the following links: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LanderCountyBusiness or https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LanderCountyResidential

For additional information, Bright can be contacted at (775) 635-2860 or kbright@landercountynv.org.