Broadband meeting eyes possibilities

RBC I The Rio Blanco County Broadband Telecommunications Summit, held Tuesday at Colorado Northwestern Community College in Rangely, attracted a variety of broadband technical experts, service providers, local, county and state officials, chambers of commerce, health care providers, community organizations, college officials, business owners and county residents as well as individuals sharing by teleconference.
Hosted by CNCC President Russell George and Peg Rector, chair of the Net Group, the vision of the gathering was to rapidly and effectively create the best and most useful comprehensive solutions and plans to provide optimal broadband services for all of Rio Blanco County.
“Each community and geographic rural areas of the county have unique access and connectivity issues that must be solved for broadband availability, but all areas are capable of being provided with optimal service solutions,” experts stated at the summit meeting.
Local connectivity and distribution of such services can be easily accomplished even in rural isolated areas with proper application of resources, they reported, the holdup being with any communications organization that will take on the task of delivering the service to the residents within the incorporated area. It is a matter of economics, the same as it was when telephone lines were run house to house.
Those in attendance agreed that high speed digital telecommunications is vital to the economic development of rural Colorado, in all areas such as education, health care providers, businesses, public safety, government, residential consumers, et al, to promote much-needed heritage tourism, entertainment, economic development and much more.
Audrey Danner, coordinator of the Northwest Colorado Local Technology Planning Team (LTPT) for broadband connectivity and executive director of the Economic Development Partnership moderated the discussions.
Frank Ohrtman of WMX Systems and I3 [a nationally renowned broadband telecommunications consultant] was keynote speaker and facilitated discussions for development of a comprehensive broadband telecommunications turnkey system that can deliver affordable, abundant, redundant high-speed digital telecommunications access for rural and local residents throughout Rio Blanco County.
Attendees have joined to form the Rio Blanco County Broadband Coalition Task Force to coordinate and achieve these challenging but feasible goals.
A panel discussion on a variety of options and solutions focused on the isolated rural areas of the county by broadband providers and telecommunications experts, including Richard Welle, general manager of White River Electric Association; Blake Mobley, the information technology director for Meeker School District RE-1; Kevin Kleinsmith, director of engineering for Union Wireless; Vince Jordan, director for telecommunications of Longmont Power and Communications; and representatives from broadband providers such as Strata, Eagle Net, Brainstorm Internet and others.
Ohrtman is preparing a turnkey proposal encompassing the variety of available resources throughout the county for consideration by the members of the task force and potential ultimate adoption to facilitate high speed digital telecommunications services throughout the county.
Rural Colorado is the least well-served area for high speed digital telecommunications due primarily to a lack of “last mile” distribution of fiber optic cable and/or microwave options, the experts reported.
Task force members vowed to continue to pursue options and development of the broadband system on behalf of Rio Blanco County residents.