Bandwidth frustrations in Mammoth Lakes


Jason Oelkers of Suddenlink said the company inherited the limited bandwidth situation. He called Digital 395 "the best solution."

Bandwidth is so restricted in the Mammoth Lakes area that residents, business owners and tourists have begun to tear their hair out as they try to get online.  For many, it’s just not happening.  Councilman Matthew Lehman agendized the issue to press Suddenlink and Verizon for information.

Lehman brought up the internet frustrations at the last Council meeting which prompted many phone calls about internet complaints.  Lehman called it a “hot topic” when Suddenlink official Jason Oelkers  stood up to talk to the Council about the problem.  Oelkers said Suddenlink inherited the shortage of bandwidth when they recently purchased the Mammoth system from NPG Cable.  He said that this is not their normal mode of operation.  Oelkers said the Digital 395 bandwidth project is the “best long-term solution.”

Councilman Lehman said he has a problem with having no solution until Digital 395 comes on line.  Lehman said, “I’m paying for service I don’t get.  Tourists come here for a working vacation and can’t get online.”  Lehman said waiting a year for Digital 395 is “hard to swallow.”

The reality is Suddenlink does not have, as Mr. Oelkers put it, “the luxury of more bandwidth.”  He said the company stopped selling internet service to Mammoth customers when they saw the restrictions.  Oelkers said internet use has doubled.  He added that Suddenlink’s long-haul carrier is Verizon.

When pressed by Lehman for any interim solutions, Oelkers said Suddenlink is examining some “exotic solutions that are in early testing phases”.  He said he could not reveal anything further right now.

The Town had asked Verizon to send a representative to deal with this pressing issue.  No one from Verizon showed up at the meeting.

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32 Responses to Bandwidth frustrations in Mammoth Lakes

  1. Joe Griego September 25, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

    The fact of the matter is that there is literally no new capacity into or out of Owens Valley. Mono County is at the north end of a peninsula of fiber. Only Verizon sells capacity on that fiber, and it is tapped out. The real issue is that additional infrastructure costs many tens of millions of dollars to build (a la Digital 395 – a $100millon+matching funds project!), and no private company will get payback on such an investment in a reasonable amortization period. That’s why Verizon won’t ever build new fiber loops to connect north to Carson City/Reno/Sacramento, or even increment their existing fiber north from LA/Barstow up through Owens Valley.

    Digital 395, as a public project, with capacity sold through a Co-Op with members from the local counties through which it passes, will be a game-changing increase in capacity for every community along the Hwy 395 corridor from Barstow to Carson City. I know it must be frustrating for customers of ISPs who have oversold their existing capacity, but honestly, they can’t buy capacity at any price from anyone. And regardless of satellite technology (satellite lag for some protocols can be mitigated with clever caching schemes), there is no getting around the speed of light, so there will always be unacceptable latency for any latency-sensitive applications. Satellite will never be an enterprise-grade solution for commercial ISPs. Building the fiber infrastructure is really the only way. Have patience, Mono county residents – Digital 395 is coming, and it will make things significantly better.

  2. LP Resident April 23, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    I know that in the community of Lone Pine the issue isnt selling too much bandwidth. Its that everyones usage has sky rocketed over the last couple years with online gaming, video streaming, social media and technology advancements. Just video streaming alone now puts a constant draw on bandwidth compared the bursts when just browesing the internet going from one web page to another. The Digital 395 project was funded to help bring this area up to date with the rest of the world. The ISP can’t upgrade to something that isn’t available. Lone Pine TV has stopped increasing the number of internet subsribers they currently have so the customers can still have decent internet speeds during peak times.
    If there are any concerns about the status of the Digital 395 project go to and look up the status of their schedule.

    • Reality Bites April 23, 2012 at 5:14 pm # is taking up the slack in Lone Pine now.

  3. sierragrl April 22, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    well, I don’t know a lot about the technical side of this issue, but here’s what I do know…people in many third world countries have BETTER access to high speed internet AND cell service then many people in the USA. Why’s that? Well cause outright capitalism for all services and products has huge flaws…That’s why for years we had a blend of capitalism and socialism in our country…and guess what, those years (say 1930 – 1980’s) our country did pretty darn good….then the capitalists got greedy and wanted to profit from the services our government either provided or regulated. And look what the country has done since then. The path to this recession started with the changes made beginning in 1980s. The rich have gotten massively richer, the middle class has been so badly squeezed that it can no longer support our economy, and our infrastructure has fallen to below some third world countries standards…pretty sad state of affairs. All because so many people with the power in our country can’t be satisfied with one huge home and a couple of vacation homes…no, they have to have 5 or 6 huge country estates, penthouses in NY and Paris, plus huge yauhts (Sorry I don’t know how to spell that). Allowing unregulated profit to be made for non-discretionary products and services has been a huge mistake that we are still paying for. Other countries figured this out a long time ago.

    • SierraFan April 23, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

      Sierra Girl.

      True there’s flaws in Capitalism but there’s flaws in Socialism as well. There’s no perfect world but without capitalism, Mammoth probably wouldn’t exist let alone every other city or municipality. If Socialism were our way, who would want to work? Just take a look at Greece! They have to ask for the private sector (Capitalists) to bail them out. There needs to be a balance and this recession is probably that! What we have is the greatest system in the world, freedom to earn a living, become wealthy and for this that don’t want to work they can and do use the system (this part I really dislike). Yes, it’s there for that purpose but it’s way abused in my opinion and abused by those that really don’t or probably shouldn’t be using it. But what the heck, it’s used the way our politicians want it to be used. Freedom!!

      • sierragrl April 24, 2012 at 9:19 am #

        Hey sierra fan, you mis-interpret my statement. I am in no way against Capitalism…in fact, I believe in letting the free market work, ie. getting rid of trade barriers between countries etc….I do not want our country to be socialist….but we do need a mix of capitalism and socialism, just like our country has had for a large percentage of time. I have a problem with non-discretionary items being controlled by capitalists…ie. gas, medical care, utilities…things that people have to buy shouldn’t be subject to an uncontrolled free market. A free market for cars, vacations, clothes, etc…I have no problem with.

        • Bemused April 24, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

          Sierragrl…well put. Your thinking is very much on the right track. One important point about “trade barriers” though: When countries have large disparities in currency valuation, labor costs, and related factors (such as in the case of the U.S. and China), the higher-value/cost country must tax imports from the lower-value country accordingly to level the playing field. The USA’s refusal to do this, and instead to enter into free trade agreements such as NAFTA, is the primary factor in the destruction of our domestic manufacturing base.

          Our current system of allowing “our” largest companies to operate as wholly-owned foreign subsidiaries who manufacture overseas with little or no import taxation, and little or no U.S. income tax exposure is a big part of what’s wrong with this country…

          • SierraFan April 24, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

            Great points Bemused! This is the part of our system that needs to be dealt with in a big way.

          • sierragrl April 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

            you got some good points, bemused….nothing is simple…also our country can’t compete when our companies have the added cost (as appropriate) of behaving in environmentally friendly actions and they have to compete with companies working in countries with no env. regulations….true free mkt competition only works when marginal cost includes environmental costs…which typically isn’t the case.

        • SierraFan April 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

          Sierra Girl,

          It sounds like we aren’t too far off in our thinking but at the same time I’m confused. Please correct me if I’m wrong but it sounds like you wouldn’t mind having the Government competing with large corporations, i.e.. gas sales, healthcare, utilities, etc. As far as Healthcare goes, yes it’s expensive but mainly because of the heavy regulation bestowed by our Government. Just ask our friends in Canada, the Netherlands, etc. if they’d rather have our system or keep their own. The Canadians regularly come here for real healthcare when their Gov. supported system fails them. Yes, our system needs some overhaul like pre-exhiosting conditions and a few others for sure. From what I know, the Government regulations actually keeps our insurance companies from fair competition which would lower our costs… Love the government control there?
          I’m not a huge fan of big corporations either or the huge profits they often host about when we’re paying for it but if the government as we know it regulated from a distance and allowed complete competition then you would see smaller companies come in and create the Walmart effect and lower things for us. Of course with out the Chinese imports of course. This includes the utilities, gas, et al. So yes we need a balance but the regulations need to be redirected to help us the citizens rather than the big boys. We just need to stop the wasteful spending and Politicking.

          • Benett Kessler April 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

            I’m not sure on what information you are basing the idea that the government doesn’t let health insurance companies compete. Government information says, “In the first quarter of 2011, the five largest for-profit health insurance companies recorded a net profit of $3.9 billion – an average 16 percent increase from the same period the year before.” The issue has been rampant raising of rates so that more and more citizens can not afford to buy health insurance. Why did Congress create a Medicare drug program and forbid Medicare from negotiating drug prices with the pharmaceutical companies, who got to set the prices? Sounds like there’s not enough regulation on the health insurance industry. Benett Kessler

          • SierraFan April 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

            Hi Bennet,

            There’s many parts to this for sure and some of the regulation is probably good for health reasons but then there’s the area that needs to be rethought. For instance, the over regulation and fees associated with things like medical devices and prescription meds.

            I agree that the cost is prohibitive for the little that most of us will ever use it for and would hope that we can find a way to lower the costs with out lowering the care standards. A complete overhaul is certainly in need!

            About the government reported information… they don’t really allow out of state insurance companies in to compete openly which would create the competition needed. Again, I don’t fully disagree with the prior posts but this is a huge subject with way too many parts to it.. i.e.. hospitals over charging, the drug companies, etc.

            On another note, many Americans, Europeans, Canadians will travel to Thailand (to the American Educated hospitals) for excellent care for 10 to 15% of the cost with care that is equal to the US and unless it’s an emergency the US Insurance companies won’t pay!

          • Benett Kessler April 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

            Hi, back,

            I’ve seen info on the internet about this. They call it medical tourism. BK

  4. Rob April 21, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    Fortunately TOML is broke and completely incompetent and soon won’t be able to provide anything so I’m not to concerned.

    Besides you don’t even know what you’re talking about. Your uplink would never work for business. Latency and ping times would make it useless for anything but websurfing.

    • Ken Warner April 21, 2012 at 9:14 am #

      Ok, you’re right. Your plan is better — uh what was your plan again?

    • Reality Bites April 21, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

      Rob, actually there is satellite internet that does not have the Latency and Ping problems that you describe. It also supports VoIP. It is commericial grade and although pricey, it works well.

      Check out

      • Rob April 23, 2012 at 7:24 am #

        Don’t believe everything you read. Did you read the upstream bandwidth? No Buno.

        • Reality Bites April 23, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

          I have a friend in the oil business that uses it and it works fine. He has talked to me on Skype with no problemo!

  5. Rob April 20, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

    you want TOML to have it’s own satellite uplink? It’s it isn’t that hard if they put their mind to it?

    TOML and every other city across the Country needs to keep out of private business ventures and not compete with private sector business. If they do they need to get their ass sued just like TOML already has.

    If it was a money making venture private industry would be investing in it. And that’s just one more reason why TOML should stay out of private sector business.

    What next their own alarm monitoring station? I’ll bet Sierra Security wouldn’t like that.

    • Ken Warner April 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

      Internet connectivity is a utility which your precious private industry has massively failed to provide enough of in a timely fashion for reasons you describe as being founded on the lack of sufficient profit. You may not need the internet given your rich internal dialog but others and the town’s economy do need it. And it’s lacking. That’s the message of this article if you would bother to read it. So the town should assume responsibility for providing it.

      • Big AL April 22, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

        I’m not sure that is a good idea Ken .. while it is an idea to have the local government providing it, because as you say, the private industry has failed. As I see it, the private industry has failed, but I feel it has failed because of government involvement.
        Because of all of the hurdles federal, state, and local governments put before these projects.
        Besides, I wouldn’t put much faith in the local government in the light of it’s recent dealings. Just saying.

        • Joe December 17, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

          I agree, its like the project manager of digital 395 says. “it takes longer to get permits to use the land then it does to do the actual digging.

  6. Ken Warner April 19, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    I told anybody who would listen years ago that internet connectivity was as an important part of the infrastructure as water and electricity. Of course, nobody cared to listen because they were focused on the airport, visitor amenities and TOT.

    The answer is for TOML to have it’s own satellite uplink to the biggest backbone it can get space on. Spin off the internet connectivity agency like they spun off public housing. It aint that hard if they put their mind to it.

    But now with a $42+ million dollar bill come due, it’s way too late to think of anything except bankruptcy.

    • Jake April 20, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

      and the latency on a system like that would SUCK!

  7. Jay April 19, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    Pretty funny, I think Lehman got his answer from the Verizon no show. Hopefully D395 comes online, but they were suppose to break ground in April and it is almost May? Anyone hear anything about D395 lately? I thought they had a deadline to spend the money by a certain date.

    • Benett Kessler April 20, 2012 at 11:35 am #

      At the Town Council meeting Nate Greenberg said D395 hopes to break ground by the end of the month. They’re still dealing with environmental and cultural (artifacts) issues. Benett

  8. Trouble April 19, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    Hey Mammoth, if you can read this Good Luck!

  9. Jake April 19, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

    And Sudden Link still over sells bandwidth they do not have. Just heard a AD on the radio for high speed internet.

    Mammoth would be better off with out Sudden Link and their ugly lies that they spew out day in and day out.

    Jason try telling the truth pal.

    • Benett Kessler April 20, 2012 at 11:38 am #

      Suddenlink does sell high speed internet in Inyo. Benett Kessler

      • Jake April 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

        Heard it on Kmmt not your station…

      • Reality Bites April 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

        I heard from a friend that Suddenlink is oversold in Lone Pine and thay are not selling new accounts there. Can someone from Lone Pine confirm that?

        • Benett Kessler April 22, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

          I do know that Lone Pine TV is the cable provider in Lone Pine. Don’t know about the bandwidth situation but have heard complaints from residents there. BK


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