Source: Red Cliff broadband just days away
RED CLIFF — About a third of the residents of this small community gathered on Saturday, Nov. 18, to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday together, and not one of the roughly 100 people in attendance found themselves distracted by their cell phones.
While the residents, however, weren’t preoccupied by the internet itself, the very idea of broadband finally reaching Red Cliff was a centerpiece of much of the discussion at the gathering. Mayor Anuschka Bales began the dinner by thanking locals for attending, and telling them to feel free to “pounce on” Eric Hager with Forethought.net when he arrives.
Forethought.net is the internet service provider that will soon transform Red Cliff by bringing broadband speed internet into homes. Hager said when he did arrive later in the evening, residents had a lot of questions for him.
WATCHING AND WAITING
Several of the same Red Cliff residents in attendance on Saturday had watched with binoculars earlier this month as Forethought finished its instillation on the tower that will bring the signal into town.
“We had a pretty big audience, with residents in the streets looking up at the tower as our two-man crew was at 80 feet, hanging the equipment,” Hager said. “They were pretty excited, and that prompted the question: Is it close?”
It’s a question Hager himself and his company, Forethought.net, is asking of the company from which they will lease the necessary fiber optic cable, Century Link.
“The segment that connects the fiber from downtown Leadville to our network at Ski Cooper is still not lit,” Hager said. “So we’re waiting for that.”
The fiber optic cable runs from Leadville to a tower at Ski Cooper, which will transmit the signal to the tower in Red Cliff. Forethought has worked with Century Link on projects throughout the state, and Hager says the waiting process is a normal part of the business.
Earlier this month, as Century Link finished the splicing of the fiber optic cable at Ski Cooper, the tech on site told Hager he could make the remaining connection the very next day.
“But that was just the tech,” Hager said with a laugh. “His boss said, no, it might be another week.”
The complete project, including the splicing and connecting in Leadville, is currently three to four months delayed.
“Though some people complain, this is normal for Century Link,” Hager said. “It takes three to four months, typically, to bring in fiber that we get from them, and they’re still in that period.”
‘LAST FEW DAYS’
Nevertheless, Hager said Red Cliff is just days away from broadband speed internet.
At Saturday’s community dinner, “we told residents it’s close, it’s very close,” he said.
Also at the dinner was Nate Walowitz with the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments. Walowitz is tasked with rural broadband consulting for Eagle, Summit, Pitkin, Grand, Jackson, Rio Blanco, Moffett and Routt counties.
“When I started in my position, over three and a half years ago, I was told mission one was to get broadband to Red Cliff,” Walowitz said.
During the course of the Red Cliff project, the council of governments did exactly what one would expect of such a group — they brought together governments. Before any efforts to install fiber optic cable could be undertaken, a lease with the U.S. Forest Service had to be procured.
“They were nothing but supportive,” Walowitz said of the Forest Service. “Getting all the teams together to cooperate, I’m just so pleased that we’re this close.”
About 35 people have already signed up to receive internet through Forethought.net, and Hager expects more will sign up when they start delivering.
“It wouldn’t be effective for us to schedule the installs if we don’t have the actual service,” Hager said.
On Wednesday, Nov. 15, Hager received word that they are about seven days away from receiving the signal into Leadville.
“I think we’re at the very last few days here,” Hager said Sunday, Nov. 19. “We’ll start scheduling the following week, and maybe even have all of them installed that week.”
Reconstruction work that was initially slated for completion in 2018 should be done by October 2019