PAHRUMP – Valley Electric Association is doing its part to keep Nye County connected to vital services in the event of an emergency.
VEA technicians activated a circuit near the Nye County Sheriff’s Office, adding two more networks to the area’s telecommunications infrastructure. With a flip of a switch, the chances of the sheriff’s office losing telephone and Internet access dropped to nearly zero.
The fiber-optic backup lines supplement the original single AT&T connection, giving the county “triple communications redundancy” and ensuring emergency personnel will be able to receive and respond to calls for help even if one of the lines becomes inoperable 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 roughly parallel to Highway 160 to U.S. 95 South; the other runs south along Highway 160 over Mountain Springs. Both are strung along transmission lines VEA erected over the past decade to provide a redundant power source connecting customers to the national power grid. Without them, the communications backup would not have been possible.
Just as the redundant transmission lines ensure reliable, virtually uninterrupted electricity, the fiber-optic cables will do the same telephonic and digital communications.
“It completes a loop,” VEA’s Manager of Operations James Andresen said of the new cables. “If either the north or south cables are damaged or cut, the remaining line will keep the county connected until repairs can be made.”
While being unable to make a phone call or log onto the Internet is an inconvenience for most, it can be a matter of life and death for Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly, local firefighters and paramedics. The single-line system has failed three times in the last 14 months, creating greater urgency bring VEA’s backup online.
“We were blessed because nothing happened, but we were very exposed,” Wehrly said. “When our 911 goes down … the calls just stop.”
“None of us slept well knowing how vulnerable Pahrump’s emergency communications system was,” said Thomas Husted, VEA’s chief executive officer. “The completion of this link provides a measure of safety and reassurance that was greatly needed and long overdue.”
About Valley Communications Association, LLC
Valley Communications Association, LLC (VCA) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Valley Electric Association, Inc. (VEA), a rural electric cooperative serving Pahrump and other service territories in Southern Nevada. VCA is building Nevada’s first fiber-to-the-home network, completing in 2017, that will make internet speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second accessible by everyone in VEA’s service areas. The fiber optic service will integrate seamlessly with VEA’s current high-speed fixed wireless service which will be available to all VEA members starting early April.