Broadband: Where does NW Colo. go from here?

MEEKER I In previous articles, the characteristics and technology of fiber optic cable have been discussed. Similarly, the possible applications of broadband were also presented, but represent only a few of the vast number of possibilities. With a robust “backbone” of fiber optic cable (fiber) in place, the next step involves developing the last and most complex phase: deployment to local subscribers.
Where does fiber already exist in Rio Blanco County? Some years ago, Rio Blanco County commissioners wisely invested in the installation of fiber which presently is operational from Vernal, Utah, through Rangely 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 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 which is local deployment. This phase tends to be the most expensive and the most complex, as it requires distribution to local residences, businesses, special districts and other organizations.
Moreover, there is a new hybrid technology that combines fiber with wireless “polygon” radio distribution sites which will support 4G wireless technology with reliable coverage for smart phones and similar devices.
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.
A map of the State of Colorado’s broadband distribution can be viewed on the Governor’s website which shows the relatively high availability of broadband in urban areas versus low density availability in rural areas, particularly in northwestern Colorado.
Where is broadband available and what are the speeds and capacities available?
(See Colorado broadband map, http://maps.co.gov/coloradobroadband/). The map shows wireless coverage, fixed wireless coverage and wired coverage from a menu. Average data speeds are also shown for each area and application.

Community based broadband coalition group to be formed.
The economic development group coordinated by the Meeker Chamber of Commerce will sponsor a task force on broadband development which will also be a part of the Northwest Colorado Local Technology Planning Team (NCLTPT) chaired by Moffat County Commissioner Audrey Danner, representing Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt Counties. Local participants will represent a broad cross-section of the community from technical specialists in broadband to businesses, local government, special districts, public safety, health providers, individuals, nonprofit organizations and others who may be interested. An announcement will be made for the first meeting which is open to the public. The following is an excerpt from the publication “Local Technology Planning Teams: Lessons Learned” (published by the Colorado Office of Information Technology, Sept. 15, 2011, pages 21-23):

“What Drives Demand For Broadband? Businesses expect to have 24×7 access to basic applications like banking, VoIP phone services (Voice over Internet Protocol), credit card and payroll processing.
Redundancy in the network is critical for businesses to avoid down times if any one part of the physical network components fails.
Specialized business software needs large pipes to move video and data easily, and access to collaborative software development, including:
• Real estate offices providing virtual tours
• Construction firms sharing schematics
• Health care facilities providing remote monitoring and diagnosis
• Emergency management responders sharing data and information
• Intelligent power grids
• Growth in general Web-surfing, blogging, social networking and consumer online shopping, where web sites that are providing the content are growing in size and complexity.
• Continued high-growth in consumer use of services
• Continued high-growth in consumer use of services such as video calls (e.g. Skype), on-demand movies (e.g. Netflix), downloadable books (e.g. Amazon or Barnes and Noble), music (e.g. iTunes) and multi-player online games (e.g. World of Warcraft).
• New consumer products (including cell phones) which take HD video and high resolution stills, whose output will be posted online, to YouTube, Facebook or sent to friends and family via email.
• Increased access to government services from e-filing taxes, searching land information databases to emergency management.

Increased demand in the near future
Mobile products are signaling the end of the PC as we know it. Mobile devices are just that, mobile. Consumers expect them to be lightweight, portable and able to go online anywhere, along with the ability to access to their personal stuff. At home, in coffee shop or at a friend’s house showing the kid’s videos, they want untethered access.
The same untethered requirements are true of business people.

The “cloud” is coming
Google has created its Chrome OS which supplies a superfast browser, with the assumption that Web-based apps and services will provide all the functions that you need. No more running applications on your personal laptop, but “in the cloud.”
Apple has just announced iCloud as a way to sync and share all personal files on your various Apple hardware (such as iPad movies and books, iPhone messages, iPod music and MacBook files).
The market for iPads, tablets and other mobile devices will continue to grow. And with it, the bandwidth demand for downloading books, Netflix movies and the like will continue to grow. In addition, these mobile devices are not designed to store huge amounts of data, such as videos, so consumers will need to park their collection of personal stuff elsewhere.
As more and more individual PCs get hacked, consumers and businesses will embrace the idea to put their data and software packages somewhere else in return for devices that work without the constant fear of losing data to hackers or hard drive crashes and won’t need the level of systems administration as current PCs.
More online and distance learning opportunities for education, where students in a class are running simultaneous multimedia content with embedded assessments or taking specialty classes, such as foreign languages, not taught locally. As education gets more expensive, schools and students will contract with larger institutions to provide curriculum not available locally.
Bigger, better products, such as 3D TVs, 100-inch TV screens, and 3D gaming with increasing bandwidth needs.”
Editor’s note: This article is the third in a series to be published in ensuing weeks on the topic of broadband telecommunications