Nakoma… an island of internet connectivity.

May 07, 2020

That ideal home in the mountains is something that many of us dream about. The Lost Sierra offers just about everything on your mountain-dream checklist with its peacefulness, beauty, relaxed pace and access to virtually endless outdoor recreation. But the fantasy may start to fade a bit against the reality of the urban comforts you’ll have to give up to truly live “mountain.” There’s no Peet’s Coffee down the street, nor can you satisfy your 10 pm craving for an In-N-Out burger without driving an hour. However, one modern convenience you don’t have to live without is fast internet. Thanks to a lot of hard work, cooperation and a shrewd electrical coop that’s always looking out for its customers, Nakoma is blessed with the kind of internet that the extremely high-end communities of Truckee and Tahoe would love to have.

Our very own electric utility (Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Coop) with its telecom subsidiary (Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications, PST) saw an opportunity in the last economic downturn to take internet capabilities in our area to the next level. In 2010 they applied for and received grant funds from both the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the California Advanced Services Fund to build a 198 mid-mile fiber optic backbone from Reno, north to Susanville, and west to Quincy.

Their original plan was to find a last-mile provider to deliver business and residential internet service. However, no last-mile provider stepped up, so PST began the unforeseen task of figuring out how to become the last-mile provider for the communities surrounding the backbone.

As PST was planning the last-mile networks, the Nakoma Community HOA (then Gold Mountain HOA) showed its foresight and began discussions with PST to bring the fiber optic network to the development.

Internet options for Nakoma residents were pretty slim before that. There was dial-up or satellite from out of the area providers or WIFI from cell phone providers, but none of the options provided enough speed, bandwidth or reliability to realistically work from home.

In 2016, thanks to a heavy push by Nakoma Resort ownership, the HOA voted in the special assessment that enabled the project to move forward. The Nakoma Community was the first large-scale development in Plumas County to make the financial leap to bring this high-speed capability to every homesite in the development. Other developments in the Lost Sierra are still looking for solutions to take advantage of the fiber optic backbone.

After an arduous, volunteer-led process of improving an existing, but essentially abandoned conduit system, PST ran nearly 13 miles of fiber lines to all residential lots. A dedicated air fiber signal from PST supplies the signal that then runs throughout the development on hard wire. The result is an abundant supply of bandwidth, easily capable of serving the community’s needs for the foreseeable future. Individual property owners can choose from several product packages from PST, the maximum being up to 1 GB/sec upload/download.

As so many of us work virtually in this COVID-19 world, many are discovering that working remotely is a viable option worth pursuing going forward. If you have been torn between your love of the mountains and your need to pursue your career, the reliable high-speed internet available at Nakoma gives you the best of both worlds.

Update 5/24/20: Recently, another development in the area has implemented community-wide internet from a fiber signal through an existing co-axial cable network.