Nov 11, 2015

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The podcast of today’s show is here:

The intro music was by Pentatonix:


Paul was in the studio today with his guest John Paul of Spiral Internet. We didn’t hear from Glenn.

They talked mostly about a project that Spiral Internet is about to start that would bring 1gigaBit/sec fiber optical cable service to the area. No calls from listeners where answered.


Paul has lived in Nevada City for 20 years. When he first moved there, there was no internet. Dialup became available around 1994 or 1995.

Now there’s an initiative to provide funding to bring 1gigaBit/sec fiber optical cable thru the Nevada City area. That’s orders of magnitude faster than the 36kbits/sec, or so, of dialup speed when it was first available. With speeds of 1gigaBit/sec, a file coming from across the country would open instantly in your application as if the file was sitting on your local hard drive.

John said this all started when Google announced it would deploy 1gigaBit/sec service to one community in the USA back in 2010. <Talked about on the 12-26-12 show> Kansas City was the first place picked for the Google project, in part, because Google was given access to the [telephone] poles. Though Nevada City submitted a request, the local [telephone] poles were in poor shape and maintaining the cables would have been daunting. The current project will put the cables underground.

Additional info about the fiber cable…
– An individual optical fiber is thinner than a human hair.
– There is a protective covering over the bundle of fibers.
– The conduit (1 inch to 3/4 inch dia.) is laid first and the fiber is blown thru it with air pressure
– Paul heard that orange conduit is sometimes mistaken for tree roots and that people attempt to pull out.
– Comcast & AT&T already have optical fiber cable in the Nevada City area, which they don’t share with any other company.

In 2010 a project called something like Central Valley Independent Network was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to lay fiber cable from Bakersfield to Colusa, passing thru Nevada County. It’s an open project that independent service providers can hook into. <John implied the current funding initiative, mentioned above, is part of this ARRA project.>

2 high schools, a middle school and a library are being connected as a result of the ARRA project. Local service providers, like Spiral Internet, are expected to hook into that cable and bring the service to individual houses. This is a dedicated cable connection and is not shared with other subscribers like, for instance, Comcast cable. John also said Spiral’s fiber cable will come directly into the house. It won’t terminate outside with Ethernet providing the final link.

Fiber cable is used for more than just carrying internet traffic. Chattanooga Tenn. is using it for their smart grid electricity service.

Cloud storage services like Dropbox will be easier to use with fiber because when you collaborate on editing a document, the response times will be so short.

Current internet speeds, including [wire] cable, are not symmetrical. Download speeds are much faster than upload speeds. A Comcast cable with 100megaBits/sec download speed will have about 5 or 10megaBits/sec upload speed. With 1gigaBit/sec fiber cable is that same speed for both uploads & downloads.

John said the latency would go down to zero. Unlike raw speed, latency is the time it takes for the network to respond to your request for a page. This is important for game players who want the game to respond quickly to joystick movement. It’s also important for stock traders who want their orders to transact before other traders have a chance.

Paul again mentioned This site tests your internet connection speed. It uses HTML5 instead of Flash. For more info see the notes for the 9-9-15 show.

Paul asked if the internet is a utility but is not officially recognized as such. John said that though the service providers have opposed it, earlier this year the FCC declared that the internet is a utility, like water or electricity.

Paul wondered what companies benefit from fiber cable. John said that everyone benefits but especially those who use cloud services. Increasingly, software, as well as storage, is provided on the internet. Rather than use software running on their local computers, businesses are turning to the internet where software is provided as a service. Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office 365 are examples. Companies started to provide software as a service, in part, because people became reluctant to buy new version of software that offered only a few improvements.

Paul speculated that the light used in fiber optic cable is infrared. John said different laser light frequencies can be used in a fiber, each at 1gigaBit/sec.

Paul told of a guy he had spoken to who repaired fiber cables. He would use a microscope and a microscopic furnace to butt-join the ends of the fiber. The fibers are actually a bit dangerous, they can get under the skin like thorns.

Paul mentioned the Global Village software. Written to run on Berkeley System Distribution Unix for Berkeley students to use in the late 70’s and early 80’s. It was a discrete system, not on the internet. It was like a blend of Facebook & Wikipedia. Arguably, this began the transition from face to face interaction to virtual interaction.

Spiral Internet applied for a grant to begin phase one of the fiber optic project in Feb of 2013. 2 weeks ago John received notice from the California Public Utilities Commission that they will likely fund 60% of the project. He already had 40% in matching funds. The PUC will vote on it on Dec. 3.

John said the project areas have been delineated and you can see where they are if you go to You can enter your address and see if you are in one of areas of the initial phase. This will also tell them you’re interested so they’ll know where to expand to next.

If the PUC votes to fund the project, Spiral expects to start laying cable in the spring. Notices will go out to homes in the area and local meetings will be held to promote the coming service. Go to the page to see area where the project will start.

John wasn’t prepared to say what the price of the service will be. Fixed wireless or DSL typically costs about $10 or $11 per megbit/sec <per month, I guess>. Spiral’s service will be about $.06 megbit/sec. Google fiber is $120/month and AT&T is closely matching that price. Spiral hasn’t decided what to charge.

As more TV content is being provided over the internet, John expects people to drop services like Direct TV and Dish. He also thinks that people will be able to fine-tune the content so they only pay for what they really want.

Telemedicine is another area poised to expand on the internet, facilitated by higher speeds. Various health monitors communicating over the internet will help in diagnosing physical conditions.

Cellular phone service can be improved because cell towers can be installed in more places when there’s high-speed fiber nearby to carry the signal.

Listeners can help in getting the PUC to vote for the funding by sending emails to the commissioners. Go to and you’ll find an on-going blog about the project. There you’ll find instruction on how to send supporting emails. And you’ll be able to keep track of the construction as it progresses.

Paul said he’ll put up the podcast of today’s show. Go to and then click on the items that “indicate streaming and past shows”. <I couldn’t find what he was talking about. I did find where KVMR’s has podcasts of past shows stored for a limited time. Today’s Zen Tech show is already there. You can find podcasts of various KVMR shows by going to and following the link called ‘Archive‘ located toward the bottom of the page

Contact info for Spiral Internet:

Last Updated 12:54 AM 11-12-2015

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