Project made possible because of support of La Plata Electric Association
FastTrack Communications, the Durango-based, regional fiber optics transport company, has completed a multi-year fiber optics cable build that brings high speed connectivity to Bayfield. Bayfield School District is the first to enjoy the increased bandwidth, but the new connectivity promises to benefit the entire community.
“The school district really was the impetus for getting the fiber to Bayfield,” said Kelly Hebbard, FastTrack general manager, noting that in the early 2000s the company had constructed a fiber “ring” in Bayfield that connected all the schools. “But the only way we could get them to the internet was through a couple of (smaller) T-1 circuits, and they only had six megabits per second of internet service for the entire district. Now they have 100 megs of bandwidth and the schools and the kids are getting everything they need.”
According to Bill Bishop, technology director with the school district, “The new connectivity has allowed us to expand in both curriculum and infrastructure. We are now able to support 15 new mobile labs and offer distance learning opportunities to provide additional course offerings to our students. With so many resources on-line, adequate bandwidth was a must, and now we have it!”
The opportunity for the Bayfield fiber build-out was made possible thanks to a timely rebuild of part of LPEA’s distribution system in La Plata County.
“As our construction crews built our line, we were able to string FastTrack’s fiber as well,” said Greg Munro, LPEA CEO. “This now not only helps the school district, but it opens tremendous opportunities for existing businesses and future economic development for the town. Every business needs access to high speed connectivity these days.”
LPEA was instrumental in the late ‘90s in originally bringing broadband to the region, building fiber from Grand Junction to Albuquerque in partnership with Empire Electric Association (EEA), San Miguel Electric Association, Delta-Montrose Electric Association and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. The co-ops initiated the effort because the large telecom companies of the day saw no economic value in bringing fiber to the Four Corners region.
LPEA and EEA also formed the local telecom company, now known as FastTrack, to build and operate local fiber loops. Over the years FastTrack has been steadily enhancing its network to provide increasingly better service, bandwidth and redundancy.
In Bayfield, FastTrack now has in place a “carrier neutral” central access point that gives the retail carriers (such as internet service providers, cable companies, etc.) serving Bayfield the opportunity to enhance their services to their customers. Also, FastTrack will now be able to run fiber from this central location out to clusters of businesses, such as Bayfield Center, and provide businesses with enhanced bandwidth to allow transport of increasingly larger files used by businesses, governments and individuals.
“On the government side, we are working with the town of Bayfield as they build their own SCAN network,” said John Monday, FastTrack director of network engineering and operations, referencing the Southwest Colorado Access Network, funded by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, which is designed to connect government agencies/taxing entities in the town. “We said, let’s partner together instead of doing something parallel to each other. Plus we’re trading fiber for redundancy – our fiber to them, their fiber to us. So we’ve created a network for Bayfield that is as efficient as possible.”
Headquartered in the Durango Tech Center, FastTrack offers internet access, point to point data solutions and voice services to commercial businesses including internet service providers (ISPs). To explore potential fiber connectivity options in Bayfield, businesses can contact FastTrack at 970.828.1007. For further information, visit www.fasttrackcomm.net.
LPEA, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative established in 1939, provides to its more than 30,000 members, with nearly 41,000 meters, safe, reliable electricity at the lowest reasonable cost, while being environmentally responsible. For additional information, contact LPEA at 970.247.5786 or visit www.lpea.coop.