By Josh Jackson
Special to the Herald Times
RBC | Experts might say that we’ve had an unseasonably short and warm winter. Whatever the facts say, those of us who have been waiting for fiber internet to make it to our homes feel like it has been an eternity. High quality internet service will certainly be worth the wait, but that doesn’t help answer every individual question for when it arrives in people’s homes. Not all questions can be answered, but we can certainly give a better picture for how the installation schedule is working, while also explaining some best practices to improve the experience of fiber internet.
While the project may look like it’s taking too long, it’s important to note that everything has been staying on schedule rather well. The initial estimate, pending on everything working perfectly, had some thinking fiber would be installed by spring of last year. The problem with construction projects like this one is that you can never expect conditions to remain perfect. Rio Blanco County understood this from the beginning and allowed reasonable extensions to be made in regards to unforeseen obstacles. As a result, the project is still running on schedule and while we all would love to see this project complete as fast as possible, the clip at which fiber has been laid out has been incredible. Even though the winter season slowed things down a tad, spring time is going to bring a fever pitch of installations being completed. If there’s one concern to put to rest, it’s that there hasn’t been any major problems that have shut down the project for any lengthy period of time. The continuous and quality effort put into this by everyone has been making this fiber project very successful.
Being told that a project is on schedule is one thing, but understanding the process of the project can help people understand why it’s on schedule. It’s easy to see conduit and cables going into the ground while thinking that progress is coming close to an end. However, laying the initial infrastructure could almost be considered the easy part. Each neighborhood needs a junction box, also known as a splice case in fiber lingo. This takes all the individual strands of fiber and conjoins them in order to bring the lines back to the main building. It takes a certain level of experience to install these devices which means scheduling with companies outside of the county. Once these steps are accomplished though, it isn’t as simple as installing the fiber into the household. The county has to inspect the lines for quality and release them before the service providers and Colorado Fiber Community can begin the connection process on their end. However, if any connecting points are dirty, or the termination was damaged in any way, then certain portions of the cable have to be redone in order to be ready for the home. At the final stage, the service provider you have selected—Local Access Internet (LAI) or Cimarron—has to schedule installing the line with the ONT (modem-like device) and then you have fiber internet access. The most incredible fact is that this explanation only covers a fraction of the full process and number of contractors involved, which is why it can be said that the Rio Blanco Broadband Project is going rather smoothly.
The pace looks like it will be picking up pretty nicely this spring, but once fiber is in the home, there are some key tips you want to follow in order to enjoy your internet experience. The number one tip to remember is that cutting edge connectivity requires a certain level of cutting edge technology to work properly. For example, while network ports have been handling 1 Gbps speeds for a long time now, wireless devices are only seeing the tip of this technology. While a $60 router is a great budget option to give functional wireless in your home, expect to pay $150-$300 in order to take advantage of max speeds over wireless, just for the router. The adapter also has to support the speeds of the router in order to have any reasonable chance of good wireless speeds, but conditions like distance, obstacles and interference can drastically lower connection speeds. In the end, you could be spending more money for your routing equipment than you did for the actual computer you bought years ago. Another important tip is remembering that web pages use way more graphics today than they used to a couple of years ago, even to just a year ago. A video card upgrade can be a huge help, but sometimes you’ll have no other choice than to upgrade an entire system in order to have technology that supports high fiber speeds.
Hopefully, seeing a few more details into the process of the fiber project, while also receiving a few tips on best practices will help ease the anticipation and give a better experience when fiber has arrived. Just remember that while you’re certainly excited to have cutting edge internet service, you can’t believe how excited the IT workers behind the project are. Some of us are putting in the extra hours and waiting for the service just like you. The simple fact is that nobody is getting special treatment, but everyone is part of a major plan aimed at accomplishing the project as efficiently and expertly as possible. We’re extremely grateful for the enthusiasm Rio Blanco has had for this and we’ll be working as hard as possible to bring high speed fiber as fast as we can.
Josh Jackson moved to Rangely in 2012 and began working in IT at Rangely District Hospital. His passion to keep pace with the ever-changing technological field brought him into contact with Colorado Fiber Community. Working around his hospital schedule, he’s helping not only with the connections of the fiber internet, but also in trying to broaden the public’s understanding of the new technology. While he enjoys staying up to date with computer hardware through publishing reviews in my spare time, he also enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. He said via email, “The Rio Blanco Broadband Project has been extremely exciting for me and I hope to continue to grow in new skills every day, right here in western Colorado!”