Town drops Region 10 anchor plans

By Hank Lohmeyer


Town drops Region 10 anchor plans | Region 10, broadband, Cedaredge

Image provided The green star designates location at the Cedaredge Elementary Annex building where the town's secure carrier neutral location will be sited.

Cedaredge will not participate in the Region 10 broadband project by providing fiberoptic links to anchor institutions in town after all. (Anchor institutions are libraries, schools, fire departments, medical facilities that need broadband internet.)

The official decision to withdraw from the Region 10 broadband anchor institution concept was made by the board of trustees at its regular business meeting on April 20.

"The town is not going to fund any additional anchors or locations at this time," stated a memo to Region 10 Director Michelle Haynes from Cedaredge Town Administrator Katie Sickles.

However, the Town of Cedaredge is considering whether to provide some funding to the school district for costs to establish a carrier neutral location (CNL) on school property in town. "The Town will assist with funding once we have an idea of the school district's need for funding to establish a suitable CNL facility," the memo states.

A CNL is a small room filled with telecommunications switching equipment owned by Region 10 where private sector internet service providers (ISPs) can access broadband signal for resale to their retail customers. The Cedaredge CNL is to be located in a section of Cedaredge Elementary School Annex.

The Town of Cedaredge's original draft budget for 2017 included $66,000 for the Region 10 anchor institution broadband plan. That amount was later lowered to $50,000, and currently the town is considering up to $15,000 to help set up the CNL at the school.

Now, without a town commitment to fund the Region 10 anchor institution concept, anchor institutions and town hall itself will have a range of other options for broadband internet service to choose among, including private sector internet service providers and, eventually, service from Elevate from Delta Montrose Electric Association. Just last month the town concluded an agreement not to compete with DMEA in providing internet service. The non-compete agreement was based on the town participating in the Region 10 anchor institution concept.

Region 10 is continuing with work on its regional six-county middle mile broadband system. As explained to the DCI, part of its project is to install the fiberoptic cable from DMEA's Cedaredge substation to the CNL location that will be placed at Cedaredge Elementary. Region 10 has used money from Delta County to buy, install, and own electronic switching equipment at the CNL.

There are a number of ISPs offering broadband internet service in the Cedaredge area. According to the website Broadband Now, "The primary provider in Cedaredge is TDS Telecom, offering wired DSL-based internet to most of Cedaredge. Additionally, consumers in Cedaredge have multiple fixed wireless options that may be a viable alternative depending on where you live."

Broadband Now tracks broadband services across the country and provides a database of available services. It also compares levels of service, and provides consumer information about providers by zip code.

In addition to TDS, the Broadband Now site specifically names Mountain Broadband and Rise Broadband as fixed wireless providers available in the Cedaredge area.

An official with TDS Telecom told the DCI that the company already has 50 megabit broadband service available in the Cedaredge area.

The DMEA's Elevate broadband internet service is not available to customers in the Cedaredge area at this time. An official with DMEA, Virginia Harman, told the DCI in an e-mail, "It is very difficult for us to predict the timing [for service startup] in any zone, as the registration process is 100 percent up to members. Also, it is hard to say exactly when a zone will go live after meeting its goal as the contraction process is multi-phased and time consuming. I wish I could tell people exact dates, but I simply can't."

However, the Cedaredge public works department reports that DMEA has contacted them and asked for location information as a prelude to the beginning of main line fiberoptic cable installation work.

The Region 10 broadband network concept designed to support entrepreneurial private sector ISP businesses has almost from its beginning faced strong, direct competition for internet customers and revenue from the DMEA-based system known as Elevate. The Region 10 plan envisaged local communities participating in its internet middle mile network by providing fiber optic broadband access to anchor institutions in their jurisdictions. Now, even though Cedaredge has opted out of that plan, county government funded CNLs installed in each Delta County community are intended to provide access to broadband signals for private sector ISPs.