In mid-December, after 19 months of waiting, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management gave Valley Electric Association permission to start construction on the installation of fiber-optic cable to Sandy Valley, VEA announced this week.
“What they gave us was a ‘right of way grant,’ which allows us to install fiber-optic cable on our own existing poles through BLM land,” Kristin Mettke, executive vice president of engineering and compliance for VEA, said in a statement.
“We are preparing to start construction in early January,” she said.
Other Valley Electric communities have been enjoying the benefits of high-speed broadband, including Pahrump, Amargosa Valley and Fish Lake Valley, the company said. Beatty is under construction. Sandy Valley, however, has had to wait.
Kenneth Derschan, VEA District 5 director, said it is great news for Sandy Valley residents.
“We … are surrounded by BLM land and are used to waiting for them,” he said. “The internet service we have now is slow and unreliable. This VCA fiber will improve the speed and quality of life out here, and we are all looking forward to it.”
Valley Communications Association will proceed with hanging fiber on its power poles from the Sandy Valley turnoff on Nevada Highway 160 to Sandy Valley.
This move brings Sandy Valley one step closer to having high-speed internet in its town.
Derschan, who owns a grocery store in Sandy Valley, said it would speed up the service for his customers.
“At my store, 90 percent of the business is now debit cards, and this will speed up the lines,” Derschan said. “The internet is now so unreliable here that my ATM machine is still on dial-up service. I don’t dare change it.”
The other changes he is hoping it will bring to his area are improved medical services and better business opportunities.
“The elderly will be able to get online and talk to a doctor,” Derschan said. “This high-speed internet will bring new industries into town and be a huge financial savings to everyone in town.”
Sandy Valley Fire Chief Ken Smith agrees with that and said his department got a new computer, but they can’t even use it.
“It just decorates the office, and it has never been used because we don’t have reliable internet,” Smith said. “When we get the high-speed internet, I will be able to send our end-of-the-month report into Las Vegas via email. Right now, that report has to be hand-carried into town. Also, we will save tons of money in training because a lot of the training for our department is done online.”