TELLURIDE, Colo. (March 29, 2019) – A cheer erupted in Information & Technology Director, Eric Adolphi’s office at the Telluride Medical Center when the speed test needle swung well past the 1000 mbps indicator of true gigabit broadband service. That number opens up a world of opportunity to our rural medical clinic, from telehealth capabilities to fast and reliable uploading and downloading of huge CAT scan images. The effort to bring such fast internet speeds to the region, which started so many years ago among key partners, has finally come to fruition.
The Telluride Foundation, Clearnetworx, and San Miguel County are proud to announce the official launch of a community-connected fiber optic broadband network for the downtown Telluride area. This network provides an opportunity for organizations in Telluride to have access to increased bandwidth, one of the resources needed for business and economic development. The partners celebrated this momentous occasion with the Telluride Medical Center on March 18, 2019.
The San Miguel Regional Broadband Expansion Initiative began in 2014 with the Telluride Foundation and San Miguel County identifying the need for faster and redundant broadband as a way to create new economic development opportunities for the region. A partnership grew with Clearnetworx, which has expertise in fiber infrastructure and broadband delivery. Primary accomplishments over the last five years include state funding through the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) for equipment and Carrier Neutral Locations (CNL), as well as fiber access to anchor institutions in both Telluride and Norwood; a federal grant to construct new fiber between the Nucla Tri-State substation and the Norwood Tri-State substation; and an eRate (Federal program for schools and libraries) to fund direct fiber infrastructure to the Norwood and Telluride schools and libraries. With more than $3M invested in the region from federal, state, county, town, and private funds, the Initiative is close to completion. “Broadband is essential to every community. It touches everything we care about in our communities from schools, healthcare, emergency services to businesses, to mention a few. Gigabit service for our rural region provides us with a critical resource for our future prosperity,” said Telluride Foundation President and CEO Paul Major.
The Telluride Foundation invested in the first phase of the project, obtained rights to Tri-State fiber assets, and worked with San Miguel County to secure initial funds. The Telluride Medical Center furthered the fiber-optic investment within the community by extending the Medical Center’s network on the west side of town. The result is a difference in speed from 40 mbps to 1000 mbps. This 25-fold increase makes services like telemedicine (livestream consults with specialists around the world) a reality. Telemedicine is critical to rural medical clinics like the Telluride Medical Center and the Uncompahgre Medical Center. Patients now have access to improved healthcare without sacrificing limited resources required for travel. Adolphi commented, “Joining the fiber network allows us to have a lot of latitude and flexibility to use resources outside the med center. Everything from companies that help us manage our network to how we deliver patient care. This is beneficial to our town as a whole.”
Gigabit service is critical to the Telluride Medical Center, but is also essential to our schools, libraries, businesses, and emergency services. With gigabit access, students are more competitive with their national peers, libraries can enhance their services to locals and visitors; entrepreneurs can start and grow businesses here and with them new job opportunities; and 911 will not suffer the same outages seen in the past several years. “The County knows that broadband is important to our economy, school kids, medical centers and entrepreneurs,” said San Miguel County Administrator Lynn Black, who helped drive local commitment to twelve anchor institutions in Telluride and Norwood. “Additionally, the need for a redundant fiber line was made clear by several 911 outages in one year. DOLA placed broadband as a high priority in unserved areas and set $20,000,000 aside for middle mile infrastructure. As part of the Region 10 network, the six counties will have a redundant network.”
This regional broadband initiative has been unique from the start because it is a successful public-private partnership, due in part to the commitment of each partner to the success of the region and its communities. “We are excited to be bringing fiber-optic internet service to the Town of Telluride,” said Doug Seacat, Owner Operator of Clearnetworx. “I would like to specifically thank the Telluride Foundation, San Miguel County, the Telluride Medical Center, the Town of Telluride, and the team at Deeply Digital LLC for working so hard to make this opportunity possible. In furthering Clearnetworx’s mission of effortlessly connecting communities, we look forward to bringing a 100% fiber network to organizations in Telluride and delivering gigabit internet service.”
The San Miguel Regional Broadband Expansion Collaborative is proud of these great accomplishments, but cautions that there is still work to be done to complete this Initiative. Easements between Norwood and the Sunshine Substation still need to be perfected and more construction is required to connect various communities around Telluride, Norwood, Redvale, and Nucla.
The Telluride Foundation is committed to enriching the quality of life of the residents and workforce of the Telluride region. It is a nonprofit, apolitical public community foundation that makes grants and runs programs in arts, education, health and human services, community development, and social enterprise. The Foundation strives to achieve excellence for the community through its mission and core values, including promoting inclusion and maximizing benefit to all. Our work is funded through the generous support of hundreds of donors as well as grants from state and national foundations. Pease visit www.telluridefoundation.org.
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