As many as 10 representatives from Verizon showed up at a public meeting Wednesday in Crowley to explain why smaller communities along the 395 corridor between Bishop and Mammoth could not have better phone and internet service right away. Some citizens mimicked the “can you hear me now” joke when it comes to phone companies listening to the people.
Some tense moments erupted as frustrated citizens pressed Verizon to find a way to serve them. Verizon officials said they could finish the fiber optic line from Bishop to Mammoth but could not afford the high price of branching off additional service to Paradise, Swall Meadows and Crowley right now. They did say they could back haul service to Crowley from Mammoth and possibly improve service to the other communities via microwave.
Citizens, miffed by earlier snubs by Verizon, had gone to the Forest Service and found that Verizon did not jump through required public process hoops to get a permit for the fiber optic line. Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch said he found numerous discrepancies in the public process, so he pulled the permit and required more input.
Some citizens said that Verizon could get Public Utilities Commission funding to serve the smaller areas. Long Valley Fire Chief Fred Stump pointed to the importance of communication in an area that hosts Southern California infrastructure like the Aqueduct, hydro power generation and geothermal power.
Supervisor Hap Hazard pointed to the more than million visitors each season who need service.
Now, it’s up to the Forest Service to decide if the fiber optic line construction can continue.