County commissioners hear Region 10 broadband update

By Hank Lohmeyer


In a telephone conference held on Monday, the Board of County Commissioners received an update on the Region 10 broadband middle mile project from director Michelle Haynes.

She noted some progress, but also indicated that work has slipped months behind schedule in other areas.

Haynes told the commissioners that Region 10 "hopes" to have fiber available in Delta and Montrose by the end of this year. "That's our target," she said.

However, the issue of Region 10 broadband service to anchor institutions in the local communities appears no closer to resolution than it was last November. The anchor institution sites were to have been selected by last December but still have not been identified. In addition, officials at DMEA announced that the co-op's broadband network will probably compete directly with Region 10 for anchor institution business.

Region 10 has entered into a contract with an engineering firm, Haynes reported. An onsite engineer will come to this area to work for two years. However, the project timeline called for that step also to have been completed by last December.

Region 10 has received a $75,000 grant to pay part of the two-year salary for a "broadband coordinator" in addition to the engineer. Region 10 will begin a candidate search for the position soon and its duties will be to "oversee implementation of the project" and "to work with communities" on local implementation details of the R10 project. There is also a third consultant who will be at work on the project three days per week -- a staff member with the Carbondale-based consultant NEOFiber which has been advising Region 10 since the project's inception.

Haynes said Region 10 is still having discussions with DMEA which is building a broadband network that competes directly with some aspects of Region 10's middle mile business plan.

Since initiating its broadband project in August 2014, Region 10 has been trying to forge partnerships with private Internet service providers for shared fiber optic cable and routes. Haynes reported that Region 10 has yet to issue an RFI (request for information) to the potential private partners, but said the RFI is "ready to go out."