RBC I What is broadband and why do I need it?
Broadband is the next generation of telecommunications technology that is replacing the traditional copper phone wiring that served the nation with phone and data services for more than a century. Unlike copper wire, which requires literally thousands of small copper telephone wires bundled in a buried or overhead phone cable to transmit voice and data over long distances, fiber optic cable uses the highest frequency of electromagnetic signaling technology, which is visible and invisible light.
The advantage of fiber optic cable is that light can be modulated with thousands of simultaneous voice and data conversations and images on one small hairlike glass fiber. Many thousands of these fibers are used to carry such signals in a single small fiber optic buried or overhead cable. The efficiency of fiber optic cable is exponentially greater than any copper wire data system.
Speed and Capacity of fiber optic cable over copper
For example, if you have a typical DSL computer modem that uses the existing copper wire of your house phone to send data, the best data speed you typically can hope to experience currently in Meeker may be about 7 megabytes per second (mbps), which is fair for typical computer use. If you want to download a high definition movie of about two hours in length, that movie may take up to several hours depending on your modem speed to download on conventional DSL or satellite-based data systems. If you have a high-speed fiber-optic cable that provides about 40-60 mbps, you can download the movie in a matter of seconds.
Other applications of broadband represent only a few of the vast different possibilities. With a robust “backbone” of fiber optic cable in place, the next step involves planning for development of the last and most complex phase, which is deployment to local subscribers.
Where does fiber already exist in Rio Blanco County?
Some years ago, the Rio Blanco County commissioners wisely invested in the installation of fiber that presently is operational from Vernal, Utah, to Rangely, and then to Meeker along Highway 64, and finally runs north along Highway 13, terminating in Craig. In Craig, the link joins existing fiber running to Steamboat Springs and eventually to the Front Range and Metropolitan Denver area. Similarly, fiber has been installed from along Highway 13, south to Rifle, where it adjoins major fiber trunks along Interstate 70.
Thus, the infrastructure or “backbone” for fiber is already in place to support a robust development of the next phase of broadband, and that is local deployment, often called “last mile,” which means from the local fiber optic network to your home or business.
This phase tends to be the most expensive and the most complex as it requires individual distribution to local residences, businesses, special districts and other organizations.
Mobile Distributed Antenna Systems (MDAS)
Moreover, there is a new hybrid technology that combines fiber with wireless “polygon” radio distribution sites, which will support 4G wireless technology for smart phones and similar devices with reliable coverage. This MDAS is similar to a ”wifi” system in the home but is designed to be mounted outdoors on utility poles and buildings so coverage is available uniformly just about anywhere in a town with no drops in coverage — as is the case with some cell phone tower-based systems that use only one point site instead of multiple sites linked together. Rural isolated areas are more difficult to serve with MDAS due to sparsely located buildings that don’t support cost-efficient installations.
The local individual subscriber distribution of fiber would be similar to existing copper coaxial cable installations that presently provide television coverage, internet and telephone services as “bundled” offerings. Fiber which typically is either buried or mounted on utility poles would then be tapped to provide a feeder line to each individual subscriber or, alternatively, a local MDAS device nearby.
Mountain Rural Broadband Conference June 16-17
A mountain rural broadband conference will be held in Breckenridge, Colo., on June 16-17. Broadband experts, government officials, providers, et al, from throughout the state will discuss the latest advances and technologies, the conference may be of interest to county residents wanting to expedite broadband coverage. For more information on the conference visit www.mountainconnect.org/MC_2013_Home.html.