Gold Country residents will soon have access to a wider selection of TV channels and Internet speeds that are among the fastest in the state.

Comcast is on track to finish construction on a multi-million dollar fiber optic cable upgrade to Tuolumne County's telecommunications network by the end of the year. The project involves roughly 390 miles of cable and will provide data speeds many times faster than what is currently available, according to Comcast Northern California Vice President Andrew Johnson.

The Philadelphia-based cable TV, phone and Internet provider began

building the new fiber optic line in May in parts of western Tuolumne


The company will provide expanded services to towns including

Sonora, Jamestown, Twain Harte, Columbia and Mi-Wuk Village. Johnson

said the project is on schedule and more than halfway complete.

"The Internet super highway we are building in the region is really second to none," he said.

Johnson said the new technology will be able to transmit

information at a rate of 1 gigahertz and each Internet "node" will have

enough bandwidth to support about 300 homes.

Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority Director Larry Cope

said the faster Internet speeds are a boon to local businesses that

want to up their presence on the World Wide Web.

He said that planning and engineering firms will be most interested

in the expanded service because it will enable them to send larger

files quickly. Home business owners have also expressed interest in

faster Internet access.

"What this is doing is giving businesses some options," Cope said.

The new services will be touted under the company's Xfinity brand,

which represents a shift toward digital cable, Internet and phone

services. Xfinity will include a variety of entertainment and

communication services, which Comcast representatives are billing as

the best their company has to offer.

"Our customers are clamoring for real high-speed Internet access," Johnson said.

The full Comcast package, called Xfinity Triple Play, includes TV,

Internet and phone service and costs roughly $114 a month. High-speed

Internet alone will cost $60 a month while long-distance phone service

will cost $35 to $40 a month, according to Johnson.

Cable TV rates will vary from $21 for a basic plan to $70 for premium.

The company has a total of 22 million customers and about 2.2 million in California.

Contact Ryan Campbell at or 588-4526.