The Region 10 Broadband Project continues to develop the timelines for completion of the Carrier Neutral Locations (CNLs) and anchor builds in Hotchkiss, Paonia, and Cedaredge. Equipment installation has been completed at the Hotchkiss CNL at the County Annex and we are building out the fiber to connect to the regional network in partnership with DMEA. In Montrose County construction has wrapped up with the exception of the Olathe CNL and final fiber testing is underway for the county anchors. Additional sites that are being scheduled with the construction teams for completion by the end of September. The Olathe CNL is underway. Multiple last mile providers will be accessing this CNL to deliver both wireless and wired connectivity between Olathe and Delta and Montrose.

Construction from Nucla to Norwood is underway on a fiber connection to connect the Region 10 network to the San Miguel County project that will connect Nucla through Norwood and on to Telluride. Quotes for transport layer equipment are being prepared for the SMC project for 100G connectivity.

Permitting has begun for the CNL construction in Ridgway and final plans for the Ouray CNL have been completed. A review of conduit/fiber IRU and asset availability in both towns is underway with Clear Networx as planning is underway for the anticipated awarding of a USAC grant to construct approximately 30 miles of fiber from the Montrose Rec Center to the clinic in Ouray. Options for a temporary lit circuit to Ridgway are being explored in order to meet the requirements of the existing DOLA grant.   In Gunnison County, the Waste Water Treatment Plant electric project is underway which will involve the installation of middle mile fiber from the permanent CNL to the facility. This will include a fiber feed to Gunnison County Electric. The engineering and permitting process with CDOT is the first step in the process. CNL construction has begun with electrical design for HVAC and operational circuits in the space.

We have been in extended discussions with area providers looking to add to their route diversification. While no final agreements have been reached, we do anticipate some positive news in this area once we have finished the Delta County and Montrose County (Nucla) network extensions. We are also discussing a potential partnership that will provide a transport path to Albuquerque from Nucla. This connection has the potential to lower access costs further than originally planned while creating additional diversification opportunities.

Finally, Greg Winkler from the Department of Local Affairs shared the following information on Broadband funding status to date:

In 2013, the Department of Local Affairs launched a statewide Broadband Program to support the efforts of local governments to improve Broadband service to their constituents to achieve enhanced community and economic development.

The initiative: 

  • Promotes inter-jurisdictional communication
  • Supports better access to services available over Broadband, such as distance learning opportunities and telemedicine
  • Provides planning and middle mile infrastructure grants

Initially, $20M was set aside to assist local governments to fund these efforts.

As of the end of August 2018, we will have exhausted those dedicated funds.  In doing so DOLA and local government across the state developed over 20 strategic and sub-plans for the broadband implementation.  In addition, DOLA assisted 13 local governments in the development, construction, and acquisition of middle-mile broadband networks statewide.

Local governments and DOLA invested $2,217,773 and $2,993,168 respectively for broadband planning totaling $5,210,941.  Middle-mile projects that have been funded by local governments have totaled $17,678,842 and were matched with DOLA funding in the amount of $16,929,950. The total investment made for middle-mile projects is $34,608,792.  The total investment made by both local governments and DOLA for the Broadband Program over the last five years has been $39,819,733.

We understood when the initial dedication of funds was made that it was only a starting place for the statewide middle-mile effort and we are now looking to determine an estimate of the level of additional funds for the continued development, construction, and implementation of the middle-mile network. This collation of information is not intended to imply that there will be an additional dedication of funding by DOLA, but rather to understand what additional projects are being planned in the near term that may need assistance to come to fruition. It should also be noted that although DOLA no longer has dedicated broadband funding, those jurisdictions that have a broadband project that is ready to go should apply during a regular Energy/Mineral Impact Assistance Fund cycle.  The request will be given the same consideration as all other applications to the fund.

In addition, we should all recognize the efforts by the Colorado General Assembly this year for the passage of SB-02 which allocated monies from the Colorado High-Cost Fund to the Broadband Deployment Board over the next five years for the installation of last-mile infrastructure and Broadband service by the private industry. Investments that have been made by DOLA and local governments in middle-mile infrastructure have made some of these last mile projects and services successful. This is the type of synergy that will bring broadband to every area of the State. 

These are exciting times in the development and deployment of open access middle mile networks in Colorado. We look forward to continuing to develop the physical infrastructure and the strategies necessary to enable our community and industry partners to meet the challenge of providing abundant, affordable access to gigabit broadband services.