County opts to take over network operations for broadband system

RBC | In a unanimous decision among commissioners, and county departments including legal, budget, human resources and IT, Rio Blanco County has terminated its agreement with Colorado Fiber Community (CFC) to function as the network operator for the county’s fiber broadband network.
The decision was based on a combination of factors, according to RBC IT Director Blake Mobley.
“The commissioners have determined it’s in the best interest of the citizens and the county to assume the network operator role from CFC,” Mobley said. “We have given them (CFC) a notice of termination and settlement agreement. It’s an amicable transition of duties and services.”
In the original three-tiered plan, the county served as network owner for all the infrastructure; CFC served as network operator, providing operations and maintenance; and the local service providers (LAI and Cimarron) would work directly with the customers. Without CFC, the county will take on operations and maintenance for the system.
The county is setting up a new communications department—which Mobley will lead as a half-time position—and hiring two new full-time positions. The titles of those positions have yet to be
It’s not an unusual situation. According to Mobley, in Glenwood Springs and Longmont, the cities are responsible for all three tiers of the system: ownership, operations and local service.
“This gives us a much higher probability of being financially profitable,” Mobley said, and it will keep the money within the county instead of profit-sharing with CFC, which is an out-of-county firm.
As an enterprise fund department, all profits will remain within that department.
“The feeling is the new department should be self-sustaining financially,” Mobley said.
CFC will continue through Dec. 15 as crews rush to connect customers who signed up for service prior to Sept. 26 (up to 700) before winter weather stops their progress. The commissioners have approved funding for those customers “drops” whether CFC is able to complete them or if they will be delayed until spring.
“CFC is facilitating the transition and they have been splendid in performing that for us,” Mobley said.