In April, a crowd of communication providers gathered in Half Moon Bay to explain how they would improve connectivity on the Coastside. Telecom provider Comcast was chief among them, promising to work to prevent long-term outages and create redundancy. Now the company says that work is bearing fruit.
Within the past few months the company’s local hub, known as an optic transit node, was relocated to another area of La Honda. The new site is better equipped, company officials say.
“We made a substantial investment to move out of that location and into the new one, so we could get extended battery power and also so we could add a generator,” said Comcast’s Regional Vice President of Engineering Jeff Votaw.
The facility now has a back-up battery that can last for two and half days and a generator that will kick in as soon as power is lost.
The generator will be checked for maintenance quarterly, company officials said.
“This is our biggest win from a power perspective,” said Director of Headend Operations Jeff McCaleb. “This is a back up to our back up. In the event of a power outage we could go for days and days on this (generator), so long as we can get a truck in here to refuel it.”
McCaleb explained that the other hub did not have a generator.
The optic transit node works by communicating with the company’s central hub, which is in San Mateo.
“It allows us to boost the signal to reach the coastal area here and it also allows us an opportunity to better use our fiber optic cable,” McCaleb explained.
Last winter, Internet, cable, phone service and power were repeatedly interrupted.
Many Coastsiders were impacted in January when Comcast telecommunication services failed for more than 19 hours due to a truck hitting a utility pole. Local leaders held a series of meetings with Comcast representatives and others in an effort to create a redundant path for communications.
Votaw said Comcast completed a permit with Caltrans to explore the use of infrastructure through the Devil’s Slide tunnels.
“Now that it is done we should have a pretty good idea of what facilities we may be able to build of our own through that area,” Votaw said. “But that is not the only option we are exploring.”
He explained that another potential solution is bringing in a back-up circuit from another provider.
“We are looking at building our own, but that is an expensive option, so we are also talking through every other possibility,” Votaw said.
“This is a two-phase approach. The first is investing in our infrastructure and the second, which is just equally important, is looking at finding a redundant path,” said Comcast Senior Director of Communications Joan Hammel. “It’s been a long-term project.”
There are more than 15,000 Comcast customers in the Half Moon Bay area and surrounding coastal communities, according to Hammel.