How Colorado Fiber Community is working to prevent future outages

By Paul ReCanzone
Special to the Herald Times
RBC | When we do surveys to identify the characteristics people consider to be the most important in their internet connection, the three that are always the most prominent are speed, cost, and reliability. Rio Blanco County has implemented a brilliant public-private partnership solution that provides great speeds (up to 1 Gbps) at terrific prices (as low as $40 per month). There are very few other places in Colorado—or even across the entire country—where you can get that kind of bandwidth at those kind of prices.
But what about reliability? We seem to have taken a few hits in that area lately.
About 30 people were without service for almost a week in Meeker in late July. This was the result of a damaged fiber and some difficulty finding it and then getting crews to repair it. Then, at the end of July, another fiber cut took about 70 subscribers out of service for a day and a half in Rangely. Finally, during the first weekend of August, all of Rangely was out of service for 30 hours.
Colorado Fiber Community is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the Rio Blanco Broadband fiber plant Local Access Internet and Cimarron use to provide service in Meeker and Rangely. We do not accept this as reasonable reliability. We strive to protect the County’s fiber from damage and to repair it swiftly when damage occurs. Furthermore, we work to implement solutions that minimize events like the early August outage in Rangely. We are writing this to give you some information about what we have done…
First, we worked to ensure the connection from Denver (where we connect to the whole of the internet) to Meeker is reliable. Mammoth Networks provides the service that takes us to Denver. Working with Mammoth, we have been able to secure a route that goes north through Craig to augment our route that goes south through Rifle. If either of these paths fail, Cimarron and Local Access Internet subscribers will continue to connect to the internet through the other.
However, that still left us with a single link between Meeker and Rangely. It is that single link that failed the first weekend of August. Fortunately, the County has built a wireless microwave system that functions as a redundant path for the existing fiber route. As part of our efforts to restore service to Rangely in early August, we pushed implementation of this redundancy up. It is now in place and Rangely has a redundant connection to Meeker.
No network provider in all of northwest Colorado can claim the level of redundancy that now exists on the Rio Blanco Broadband network helping to ensure major town-wide or county-wide outages will not happen again.
We know this doesn’t fix the inconvenience the outages at the end of July and beginning of August caused. We do, however, hope it gives you a greater feeling of confidence moving forward.
I will be available at the Rangely Town Hall meeting Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. to answer any questions you may have.

Paul Recanzone is the chairman of Colorado Fiber Community.