The city of Cortez is looking to continue its project to extend a fiber network throughout town.
During a work session Tuesday night, the City Council met with representatives from ALLO Communications, which may be tasked with furthering the large-scale project, which aims to increase affordable connectivity to residents and businesses alike. This was the first time the council met face to face with ALLO, said Rick Smith, the city’s general services director.
“It’s all about being able to participate in the new digital age,” Smith said.
Many logistical details of the next stage of the process are up in the air, Smith said. The Fiber To The Home project, initiated several years ago, looks to bring fiber to each home and business in Cortez, creating a “multiservice open network.”
What this means is that homes and businesses could have one network by which they can access internet, television, and telephone voice services. The city compares the system to a “digital road,” which can be used by multiple different providers and help reduce costs for both providers and consumers.
“It’s much like building a water line or a street,” Smith said.
He hopes the network will lower consumer costs and bring faster and more equitable services to all community members, ensuring that all students have internet access for schoolwork and allowing home businesses to be sustainable.
And farther in the future, the fiber system could be used for specialized services such as home and business security, police and fire services, energy management, online tutoring, schools and telemedicine, according to city staff.
Right now, the city has about 120,000 feet of fiber in place, with cable set up in all four quadrants of the city, Smith said.
“We have already connected all the schools, the hospital, library, all city buildings and county buildings,” he said. “We’ve got a pretty good infrastructure for government services, but that’s the challenge – is how do we roll that out to the rest of the community.”
In January, the city put out a request for proposal for a third-party company to build, operate and manage and “potentially finance taking the network everywhere in town,” Smith said.
The city began negotiations with ALLO Communications in February, and Tuesday’s meeting introduced the council to ALLO, Smith said.
In their presentation, the representatives highlighted previous work, especially in Fort Morgan, Breckenridge and Lincoln, Nebraska.
“Each of those wasn’t a specific model,” said Brad Moline, ALLO’s founder and president. “We met with the city, we figured out different opportunities, different needs, and we met them so that we could work together.”
They emphasized the company’s honesty and commitment to community values, along with their focus on eliminating the digital divide and encouraging telecommuters to move to the area.
“The quality of life here is amazing,” Moline said. “If you have connectivity, people can live here and work for IBM.”
Many of the details are still being finalized, Smith said, including overall cost and how the move would affect the existing service providers in town, including Farmers Telephone, Brainstorm, Velocity Net, Cedar Networks and FastTrack. The representatives met with providers Wednesday morning.