Comcast is digging in to bring a new fiber-optic network to Eagle and Gypsum | VailDaily.com
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Comcast is digging in to bring a new fiber-optic network to Eagle and Gypsum

Construction crews are laying lines in the 'last mile' network connection

Crews dig trenches along Valley Road for Comcast fiber optic cable network expansion. The company's construction in Eagle and Gypsum started this spring and is slated for completion in 2021.
Pam Boyd/pboyd@vaildaily.com

If we have learned anything from our COVID-19 work-from-home experience, it’s that a home office is only as effective as its internet connection.

“COVID-19 has shined an even bigger light on how important it is to have a robust and healthy internet connection,” said Andy Davis, director of government affairs for Comcast Colorado. “We have certainly heard from the communities of Eagle and Gypsum that this was an important problem to them before COVID-19 and it is even more important after COVID-19. It will be an important part of their recovery.”

Before the pandemic hit, Comcast had already planned its expansion into the downvalley communities. Today, Comcast crews are at work in both towns, laying fiber-optic cable for what the company calls its “last mile connection.”

Bryan Thomas, Comcast’s vice president of engineering who is based in Denver, said the work now underway will provide customers in both towns with the full suite of company products — broadband, video, voice, home management, and business products and services.

 “This is a great investment in these communities,” Thomas said. “How we utilize fiber is it allows us to transmit a significant amount of data.”

According to the frequently asked questions section of Comcast’s Eagle and Gypsum project webpages, “Residents’ homes will have access to gigabit speeds, wall-to-wall WiFi — personalized with tools and controls — a dedicated privacy center and enough capacity to stay ahead of tomorrow’s innovations. Local businesses will be powered by the nation’s largest gig-speed network and backed by 24/7 customer support.”

“Our philosophy is to build it once and build it for the future,” Thomas said.

He noted that the Comcast system will offer high speed and high volume internet connection and reliable customer service. “There are times we are responding to incidents before the customer even realizes it,” he noted.

The increase in use that happened when workers switched to home offices didn’t disrupt the Comcast system, Thomas said.

“Our network is healthy,” he said.

But before crews can hook up to that network, the company needs to lay the cable. That’s what’s happening right now in the streets around Eagle and Gypsum.

Last mile

This spring, Comcast began the 18-month phased engineering and construction project to bring its fiber-optic network into Gypsum and Eagle. The project involves a combination of construction in the public right-of-way and easements, installation of new equipment, and connection of the network system. This work actually extends the cable to the last mile, bringing connection points within reach of individual homes.

“What that means is we have big equipment out there,” Thomas said. “We want to make sure we are as least disruptive as possible. Our mission is to go in and build our network and then leave everything like we were never there.”

Construction is happening in phases and Eagle and Gypsum residents can follow the company’s progress on websites set up for each community. By early fall, the company hopes to begin offering service and the project is slated for completion in 2021. The Comcast representatives said they have heard from businesses and residents anxious for the service to start.

“We realize that the communities of Eagle and Gypsum need and want high speed data connection and reliable service,” said Leslie Oliver, director of media and external communicaitons for Comcast. “We want to bring that service to those communities.

On the subject of cost, Oliver said Comcast offers a wide array of services and prices can vary greatly depending on individual packages. She added the company also provides low income, low-cost internet service. That service is just $9.99 per month for qualifying customers, Oliver said.

As the network is assembled, Comcast representatives are reaching out to chambers of commerce, homeowners associations and other community groups to present their project.

“This has been an area of Colorado that we have wanted to address for a long time and it’s only been over the last couple of years that we have been able to make it happen,” Davis said. “We offer incredible technology and a huge focus on the customer experience. We think we are going to be people’s best option.”


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