Delta Montrose Electric Association is asking local governments in Delta County for assistance in making plans for a possible decision to enter the "last mile" Internet service provider business.
Two DMEA staff personnel from the engineering and operations department were at the Orchard City Town Board meeting on Aug. 12 to make the request. The Orchard City trustees and local governments in Cedaredge, Hotchkiss, Paonia and Crawford are being asked to adopt a resolution solidifying their community's support for DMEA's Internet provider business planning, explained Mark Kurtz of DMEA.
In a memo to Orchard City, Kurtz explained, "In essence, prior to the DMEA board's strategic planning session on Aug. 17, we are trying to get an unofficial 'we're in' from each city, and then to follow that up with an MOU (memorandum of understanding) should the (DMEA) board decide to authorize DMEA (or its wholly owned subsidiary) to become an Internet service provider."
Olathe is also being asked to adopt the resolution of support. Delta County and the cities of Delta and Montrose are not being asked to adopt the resolution, a DMEA official told the DCI.
The DMEA directors held a "strategic session" last week to discuss its fiber optic network initiative. As of Monday this week the board had not made a decision on whether to enter the Internet service provider business. The DMEA board scheduled its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 25.
Orchard City and other local governments have previously written a general letter of support for the idea of faster Internet service in their communities. The requested resolution "is more of an official form of support," Kurtz explained. "Directors want to have it in case a decision is made to proceed."
The Orchard City board took a cautious approach to the request. Mayor Don Suppes said, "This board supports the idea, but we need to make sure we aren't sticking our necks out."
Suppes said the town would like to see two of the resolution's five provisions "more tightly worded." Those two involve precise description of the locations of easements DMEA wants. Also, a provision that the town will help DMEA in marketing its proposed Internet service "needs to be clearer," Suppes said.
Trustee Beverly Moore asked how long it would take to build DMEA's Internet service plan. Kurtz replied, "Seven to 10 years. It would be a long-term project." The DMEA plan would bring fiber optic cable directly to individual homes, he added
Suppes asked Kurtz, "As a "one stop shop" for providing Internet service, "would DMEA have a secure long-term agreement with its gateway portal for service in Albuquerque?"
Kurtz replied, "DMEA owns its fiber and will have control of its use." Kurtz also explained the following points:
• The DMEA fiber has been in place since 1999.
• Albuquerque is the key to being able to offer "inexpensive, affordable bandwidth."
• The DMEA fiber optic cable has "a lot of capacity."
• "DMEA has agreed to energize its fiber running to Albuquerque now that the Region 10 grant has been awarded.
The town trustees took the request for a resolution under advisement but took no formal action on it at their Aug. 12 meeting.
The resolution's five main points follow.
1. The construction of a DMEA fiber to the premise network, within their town, using existing DMEA overhead facilities including required "make ready" improvements should DMEA decide to proceed with the aforementioned FTTP project.
2. The execution of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the town and DMEA whereby DMEA agrees to make high speed broadband available to all the town's residents at competitive market rates, in exchange for allowing a fiber optic network to be constructed in their community. DMEA would be the provider of broadband service on DMEA's, or its assigns, fiberoptic network.
3. DMEA request that the town issue a single construction permit for the "fiber to the premise" project.
4. Provide any easements that DMEA would specifically require from the town, if any, at no cost to DMEA.
5. The town, in conjunction with DMEA, aid in the marketing efforts to engage its citizens to encourage participation in the program.