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Hitting 300 mbs ‘like boom!’

Colorado Department of Local Affairs Executive Director Irv Halter came to Steamboat Springs on Jan. 24 to praise Northwest Colorado Broadband's new fiber optic trunk line saying, "What we are looking for is projects that make communities whole and help them stick in an era of great growth."
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The celebration of the new fiber optic trunk line bringing high bandwidth to six community institutions in Steamboat Springs was still underway at Allbright Family Auditorium on the campus of Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs Jan 24 when the news broke that a last-mile provider was on board to  deliver on the promise of extending high bandwidth service to a broader customer base.

Evan Biagi  of Mammoth Networks, which will manage the new trunk line, announced that USA Communications, has already built some lateral lines off the trunk to serve businesses in the downtown area.”

“We’re so blessed to come in and build the laterals,” USA Communications’ Tyler Cretacci said.

His company, which began as a traditional cable  television provider, has  worked on high-bandwidth projects in Colorado communities including Blackhawk, Central City and Pagosa Springs. He emphasized that in Steamboat, the commercial service would be practical for companies in proximity to the trunk line, so that they can have their own lateral line installed.

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The $1.4 million project, once estimated to cost $2.2 million, was a collaboration among Routt County, the city of Steamboat Springs, the Steamboat Springs School District, Yampa Valley Medical Center and Yampa Valley Electric Association working through the nonprofit Northwest Colorado Broadband. County Manager Tom Sullivan, is also the president of NCB.

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) contributed a grant of $748,195 to the broadband project here, and DOLA Executive Director Irv Halter attended the celebration in Steamboat. He observed that as Colorado continues to grow, not all of that growth will be concentrated along the Front Range – many people will move to smaller communities like Steamboat Springs and have expectations about their connectivity, he predicted.

“What we’re looking for is projects that make communities whole and help them stick in an era of great growth,” Halter said.

The trunk line runs from the county justice center on the west side of Steamboat to the U.S. Forest offices on the south side of town. Lateral lines off he trunkline serve each institution.

Biagi predicted the strategy Routt County and Steamboat Springs have employed to take control of their broadband future will be emulated by other communities.

“We’re ahead of the curve, in terms of the rest of the state,” he said.

School district Information Technology Director Tim Myles said that the availability of high bandwidth at a reasonable cost has already demonstrated that, “school is everywhere,” for the district’s students.

“The district will save $250,000 a year,” Myles said. “That’s unfathomable, what it is over a long term.”

Yampa Valley Electric CEO Diane Johnson said her utility had studied acquiring high bandwidth  on its own,  but when the cost estimate came in at $1.2 million, “We said, ‘no.’”

However, through the NCB partnership, YVEA was able to buy into the trunk line for $350,000. The practical implications include the increased ability to monitor substations remotely, leading to greater reliability. But the sizzle, according to Johnson comes with the breathtaking speed of the network.

“We went from 30 megabits per second to 300, like boom!” she said. 

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1


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