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401 Meeker St Delta CO 81416 970.874.4421

Hotchkiss, Crawford deserve high speed internet

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Dear Editor:

Few communities in this country have 1 gigabit internet, but parts of Delta County enjoy this level of fast internet. In fact, from the research I've done, Delta County is one of the best-connected counties in Colorado, and it is all due to Elevate, the creation of our member-owned Delta-Montrose Electric Association co-op.

With matching grants from the state's Broadband Deployment Board, DMEA has brought lightning-fast internet to 16,000 of its 33,000 electric-meter households. But hooking up the next 17,000 customers is turning out to be a battle.

Recently, I purchased a commercial building in Hotchkiss. I decided to invest in part because I found out that DMEA had an approved grant for $759,585 from the Broadband Deployment Board to bring high speed internet to Rogers Mesa. DMEA would have matched that dollar for dollar.

But soon after, TDS asked the Broadband Board to deny DMEA's grant. The Broadband Board, made up of TDS' corporate allies such as the president of AT&T Colorado, then revoked the grant to DMEA. Here is one of the legal arguments TDS made to persuade the board to do this: DMEA would be overbuilding an existing robust copper internet system. According to several Rogers Mesa residents I talk to, its claim of a robust system is laughable.

Pauline Carr, a long time resident of Rogers Mesa, told me that she's had to get used to her phone full of static. "But wait until it rains -- you can't hear anything," she said, "and the internet hardly functions."

TDS is using its clout to block serious capital investment from Delta County. Yet public filings show that it has $900 million sitting in corporate bank accounts. Isn't it wrong to keep sending static to Rogers Mesa residents who are using phone lines from the Ronald Reagan era?

Hotchkiss (and Crawford) deserve the same reliable fast internet that has served greater Paonia so well. I've now met all sorts of people who have brought money and jobs into Paonia precisely because of DMEA and Elevate.

When Delta County loses a grant it goes to another rural community. They win what we lose. I'd like to hear from people in places waiting for Elevate. Is TDS serving you well? How is that service? I know TDS did a repair in Hotchkiss that involved bypassing their aging copper lines with nine tall microwave towers (that greatly annoyed neighbors). Aside from that, does anybody notice TDS trucks leaving their garages for anything but simple repairs?

Finally, TDS: Are you invested in growing our community or will you keep dragging us down?

I can be reached at dmarston33@yahoo.com.

David Marston
Via email

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