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Broadband in the Town of Telluride and Mountain Village

Fiber Optic broadband installation has arrived in the Town of Telluride and Mountain Village.

According to Telluride Mayor Sean Murphy, the landmark event is necessary not only for crucial services like fire, medical, school and government, but for businesses and residents.

“Twenty-first century broadband connectivity is absolutely vital to the economic evolution of the Town of Telluride from a tourist economy with predominantly seasonal service jobs to a well-rounded economy with sustainable year-round jobs,” Murphy said. “I’m thrilled to see the progress and better broadband service coming to residents and visitors.”

The excavation and installation is a pricey endeavor for the town and the project will require extensive road repair. The cables will run from Nucla through Norwood to a “carrier neutral location at the Telluride High School and to each anchor institution in Town,” according to a town memo.

The phased opportunistic approach utilizes any ongoing or planned excavation projects and residents are encouraged to offer their private excavation to the fiber optic installation project. If all the construction were completed at once, the total cost would be a seven-figure number. As crews work to complete the installation, locals will have to adjust to temporary road closures and limited access to driveways. The project has been broken out into sections to minimize inconvenience to town residents.

Installing the fiber optic cable is a necessary and long-term solution for Telluride and Town Council indicates the cheap monthly cost will eventually mitigate the expensive installation. Fiber optic technology is consistent and feasible, especially in a town like Telluride where continuous, stable Wi-Fi coverage is nearly impossible.

According to Cathy Knight, public works administrative assistant, Telluride would only need two strands of fiber optic cable. “Two strands are more than enough for any business in Telluride. The amount of data capacity is phenomenal,” she said.

“The real problem isn’t speed; it’s bandwidth. When Bluegrass comes to town, people can’t even text” Council member Todd Brown said.

Bandwidth capacity is perhaps the current greatest technological challenge in the small box canyon.

The funding comes from a public-private partnership comprised of San Miguel County, the Telluride Foundation, the Town of Telluride, Colorado’s Department of Local Affairs and Clearnetworx, a local fiber internet provider.  The Telluride Foundation served as the project’s coordinator of the San Miquel Regional Broadband Collaborative. Various personal investments, grants and government dollars will fund the county’s upgrade.

According to a news release issued by the Telluride Foundation, “the days of slow internet are soon to be over. No more spinning wheels when trying to watch your favorite Netflix show in the midst of Bluegrass Festival. No more internet black outs when a snowstorm hits. No more anxiety for students trying to access the internet to finish their homework,” the release stated.

Broadband services are more prominent in urban areas with more competition and demand.  When there aren’t enough private companies coming into rural areas with services, it becomes up to government and private organizations to make it happen.

Not everyone is in support of initiatives to install citywide fiber optic networks, particularly large corporations.  At the state-level, cable and telecom companies have launched intensive lobbying campaigns in an attempt to prevent cities from constructing their own broadband networks.  Recognizing this opportunity, Murphy said that similar laws could be passed in Colorado that could limit fiber optic installation if cable companies succeed in their lobbying.  Murphy indicated that Telluride needs to move forward quickly in order to be grandfathered into the existing system.


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