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VEA gives sheriff’s office ‘triple communications redundancy’ with fiber-optic lines

Valley Electric Association, Inc. is hoping its communications network will keep Nye County connected to crucial services in the event of an emergency.

VEA technicians activated a circuit near the Nye County Sheriff’s Office, joining two more networks to the area’s telecommunications infrastructure. The added lines mean chances of the sheriff’s office losing telephone and Internet access are nearly zero.

The county now has “triple communications redundancy” with the fiber-optic backup lines supplementing the original single AT&T connection, according to VEA, which ensures emergency personnel will be able to receive and respond to calls for help even if one of the lines goes down because of vandalism, accident or technical malfunction.

The new cables connect Pahrump to a network hub in North Las Vegas, from where communications can be directed anywhere in the world, said John Spracklen, VEA executive vice president of broadband operations and services.

One line runs about parallel to State Route 160 to U.S. 95 South and the other line goes south along State Route 160 over Mountain Springs. Both lines are strung along transmission lines VEA built over the past decade to provide a redundant power source connecting customers to the national power grid.

Without the transmission lines, the communications backup would not be possible.

Just as the redundant transmission lines ensure reliable, almost uninterrupted electricity, the fiber-optic cables will do the same for telephonic and digital communications.

“It completes a loop,” said James Andresen, VEA’s Manager of Operations. “If either the north or south cables are damaged or cut, the remaining line will keep the county connected until repairs can be made.”

Being unable to make a phone call or access the Internet is an inconvenience for most, the loss of communications could be a matter of life and death for the sheriff’s office, Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue and paramedics. The single-line system has failed three times in the last 14 months, making VEA’s backup system all the more important.

“We were blessed because nothing happened, but we were very exposed,” Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly said. “When our 911 goes down … the calls just stop.”

VEA Chief Executive Officer Tom Husted explained having the triple backup system makes the town safer and more reliable.

“None of us slept well knowing how vulnerable Pahrump’s emergency communications system was,” Husted said. “The completion of this link provides a measure of safety and reassurance that was greatly needed and long overdue.”

Contact reporter Mick Akers at makers@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @mickakers

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