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Surface Creek towns take different paths to internet service

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Illustration Town of Cedaredge A map distributed by Cedaredge Town Hall shows preliminary plans for Region 10 middle mile service the town will pay for.

Surface Creek Valley's two town governments are taking different approaches to broadband internet service.

According to preliminary plans released last week, Cedaredge's approach is to bring the Region 10 middle mile service to six anchor institution locations in town at an estimated cost of $45,000 to taxpayers.

Orchard City, by contrast, will not be paying for any anchor institution installation and, according to town staff, $50,000 has been removed from the from budget for that work. Instead, Orchard City will rely completely on the DMEA broadband service with no cost other than a $100 installation fee for a town hall connection. A DMEA spokesperson told the DCI, "All customers that pre-register will pay the $100 installation fee." Anchor institutions in the town may sign up with the internet service provider of their own choosing.

With both the Region 10 and DMEA systems, fees for monthly internet access service are additional and vary. (The DMEA broadband project is marketed under the Elevate brand.)

The Cedaredge proposal for Region 10 middle mile won't include middle mile connections to the high school or middle school. Town staff explained to trustees that is because a federally funded program is available to pay for schools. However, the Cedaredge Public Library also qualifies for the federal program but it is included in the town's preliminary plan anyway.

Anchor institution locations identified in the Cedaredge preliminary plan are town hall, police department, public works department, fire house, Surface Creek Family Practice and the library.

The Delta County Commissioners have pledged over $700,000 to the Region 10 middle mile system. The money is to ensure that each of the county's municipalities has a "carrier neutral location" (CNL) installed within its jurisdiction. A CNL is a site where any private sector internet service provider (ISP) can access high-speed broadband for serving their customers.

Region 10 director Michelle Haynes informs the DCI, "We have not yet determined the final locations for the CNLs in those communities [Cedaredge and Orchard City]. We will work with the communities during the engineering design process to see what locations would be best."

Another contrast between the DMEA and Region 10 systems is that DMEA will not need to access the CNL locations. It will provide high-speed internet access to customers through its own fiber-optic infrastructure.

The southern part of Orchard City has been designated as a priority area for DMEA installation of its broadband service. The DMEA spokesperson explained, "We have begun make-ready work in Orchard City, which includes preparing our poles for the fiber [optic] cable and installing underground conduit. As of [last Friday] the Orchard City zone was at 87 percent to their goal for pre-registrations."

It is not precisely known how long internet surfers in Cedaredge will have to wait for their super-fast connections through either Region 10 or DMEA.

The DMEA service "will be available to customers, including residential, commercial and anchor institutions in Cedaredge [but we] do not know exactly when services will be installed there. Cedaredge is not currently in an active zone for Phase I," the DMEA spokesperson said. "The information we gather from pre-registrations through our website will help determine our construction plans moving forward into future phases. Basically, the more interest an area shows, the sooner they will bring fiber to their community."

Last week, contract crews working for DMEA were installing fiber optic cable in Tongue Creek Valley between the Doughspoon and T-50 Road substations. That work is part of DMEA's in-house broadband project.

"We have a crew currently working on finalizing our middle mile fiber network, which connects all of our substations. Once this is complete, our middle mile network between our substations will be complete," the DMEA spokesperson stated.

Photo by Hank Lohmeyer DMEA contract crews at work last week in Tongue Creek Valley strung fiber optic cable which will connect the Doughspoon substation with the T-50 Road (Cedaredge) substation, a step that will complete the electric co-op’s in-house fiber optic substation monitoring system.
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