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Broadband focus turns to anchor sites

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The anchor institutions designated for inclusion in the Region 10 broadband plan are a key element in the overall project vision. The county is working to arrange a discussion of anchor institution issues among local officials at the courthouse on Nov. 2.

Actual costs of the broadband plan are based to an extent on the number of anchor institutions that local communities want to see served by the proposed fiberoptic network.

Anchor institutions are described generally as government entities that would have some need for super-fast Internet access. They would include schools, health care facilities like hospitals and clinics, first responder headquarters, libraries and others. Region 10 has distributed a list of over 60 possible anchor institutions in five Delta County municipalities (excluding Orchard City).

Region 10's broadband consultant, NEOFiber of Carbondale, includes the following explanation of anchor institutions' role in the overall system and its associated costs:

"Some grant programs will not pay for customer premise equipment, i.e. equipment that the customer owns. However, if the network owner or Region 10 maintains ownership of the equipment that is placed at the customer anchor institution, there would be the opportunity to have the grant pay for the equipment.

"Once fiber is built within a community, it is much easier to continue to build out further into the community. The networks within each community have been designed so that either the ISPs can further build out within the community or the cities or towns themselves can build further into the community. Equipment at each of the anchor institutions would also need to be purchased to light the fiber. These costs are included in the Phase 1 of the DOLA grant submission."

At a meeting of county municipal officials last month, Region 10 officials confirmed that the $753,000 cash pledge by Delta County will be used for ensuring that every municipality will have a "carrier neutral location" regardless of whether it designates any anchor institutions, or even if it doesn't approve the "opt-out" proposition on the Nov. 3 election ballot.

In addition, there will be a certain amount of new construction as fiberoptic cable is installed for the system as currently configured. That alone is being described as a project that is at lesat a year or two away from anticipated completion.

The proposed Region 10 fiberoptic cable network is to be a "middle mile" network. Region 10 intends to purchase access to a regional Internet hub at Albuquerque and then distribute that content over a fiberoptic network of cable owned partly by itself and partly by DMEA, which has promised to provide access for Region 10.

From the middle mile portion of the system, according to the current plan, access to fiberoptic cable and associated Internet services is to be offered through the middle mile component by Region 10 for fee to private company Internet service providers (ISPs). Region 10 has promised that gigabit speeds will be offered to the private ISPs for $1,200 to $1,500, less than the private ISPs currently pay for the content they sell.

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