High-speed Internet has arrived in Dolores.
The fiber-optics technology is coiled to strike, a black circle of wire seen on telephone lines in town.
“That’s it on the street; now we need businesses to sign up,” says Sue Armstrong, a customer-service agent for Cedar Networks, the company providing the link in town.
The company recently hosted an open house at the Dolores Chamber to get the word out. The fiber-optic upgrade is significant, offering 20 Mbps of power, with “burstable” capability of up to 100 Mbps or more. Typical Internet service in Dolores is rated between 1 and 7 megahertz on a copper, Direct Service Line.
Armstrong said the company needs at least six businesses to sign up in Dolores to make installation worthwhile. The rate per customer would be about $100 per month, with a 3-to-5-year contract that includes a phone line.
“We cover the installation costs direct to the business and the hardware,” she said.
The company pitched the economic benefits of high-speed Internet from fiber optics. On-line ordering, real estate, web-design, finance, hotels, tourism, and on-line education are some industries that would benefit.
Armstrong said the fiber optic feed to businesses is a dedicated line that won’t crash during high-use periods. The 20 meg service is “up and down” — industry parlance for fast uploading and downloading.
Dolores Chamber Director Rocky Moss says businesses offering Wi-Fi also benefit from fiber optics because the high-speeds are what customers want.
“Fiber lights up Dolores in that way,” Moss says. “Our visitors all have computers and smart phones. They’re checking for Wi-Fi hotspots to find out where to eat and stay, and what to do in the area. It is automatic advertising.”
The capacity of fiber-optic Internet service allows for improved marketing as well, Moss said.
For example, Moab has had success partnering with public land agencies on their websites to promote outdoor recreation opportunities.
Rural economies especially need improved Internet access, the reason behind $100 million in Federal Stimulus funds to connect Western Slope communities with fiber optics.
“When businesses thinking of relocating here call us, they ask about the quality of Internet service,” Moss said. “Dolores’ scenic location and mountain recreation are what telecommuters are looking for. Now we offer the technology they need.”
Scott Cooper, superintendent of Dolores Schools, said students and teachers are loving the fiber optic internet capacity hooked up in May.
Students depend on the Internet to conduct assignments and do research. Teachers regularly use it for curriculum, and the fiber connection is more reliable.
“Before the fiber connection, teachers would send out an email for students to not stream during their presentation so it would not crash,” Copper said. “We’ve entered the 21st century.”
Cooper said E-books require the power of a fiber optic connection. He said the school is looking into the technology for students because the electronic books are regularly updated and are more affordable long term.
State testing is now all done with computers, which is also benefiting from fiber connections.
“Now we can have 60 seniors taking the test on 60 computers with no breakdowns,” Cooper said.
More computer power means updated computer infrastructure at the school to handle the traffic. Cooper said the current technology budget of $80,000 will likely increase, and may include additional tech staff.
Eventually Dolores residents will have access to higher-speed internet provided by Cedar Networks. But it will take economy of scale before the company will commit to installing the lines.
“We’re looking forward to working with Dolores businesses and residents,” Armstrong said. “So far no one has signed on, but we’ll be knocking on doors. It’s a great deal.”
For more information, Cedar Networks at 970-403-0105, or email Sue Armstrong at firstname.lastname@example.org