‘Middle mile’ fiber optics network up and running

A project to bring high-speed internet to select areas in Delta and Montrose counties started offering broadband services this week.

The Region 10 League for Economic Assistance and Planning said those services have been deployed in the cities of Delta and Montrose, said Region 10 Broadband Project Director Chris Kennedy.

New fiber optic lines installed in the two cities as part of a larger grant program to provide high-speed internet to much of the Delta-Montrose-Gunnison region are designed to fill “the middle mile” between the internet as a whole and direct delivery to homes and businesses, Kennedy said.

“Local last-mile providers have an option now to access more affordable broadband so they can build a business case to offer broadband services to smaller, rural communities,” he said. “That’s the idea. It’s an open-access broadband network.”

Those providers would pay Region 10 and its partners, the cities and counties of Delta and Montrose, for the right to use its lines, but because it is a public-private project conducted by a nonprofit group, they will get cheap rates, which they can then pass on to their customers, Kennedy said.

After more than three years of work, phase one of construction of a fiber optic network through the two cities is complete. Phase two of the project will be to extend fiber optics throughout the region, including to the rest of Delta and Montrose counties, as well as to Ouray, Gunnison, Hinsdale and San Miguel counties.

The new network is available to local service providers to offer lower-cost access for their customers, Kennedy said.

The network connects area schools, hospitals, libraries and city and county offices.

This project is being done in conjunction with a similar one being implemented by the Delta-Montrose Electric Association.

That project is attempting in its first phase to connect about 7,500 homes and businesses, focusing first on south Montrose, Paonia and Orchard City. Cedaredge also just recently joined the ranks of cities with fast internet, according to DMEA. Once completed, the project not only will augment the middle-mile needs of the area, but also act as a direct internet service provider.

It also will be able to offer fast connection speeds, up to one gigabit, at rates cheaper than seen here in the Grand Valley, Kennedy said.

“DMEA is sharing fiber with us, and we’re sharing some fiber with them in order to help them deliver services, and for us to then be able to take a regional approach outside their original footprint,” he said. “Then we’re looking to establish (connections) in Gunnison, Crested Butte, Ridgway and Ouray. Farther down the line, we’re working with San Miguel County.”


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