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Broadband under way

It was a turbulent but successful year for city officials in charge of the new Glenwood Springs broadband system. Local Internet businesses lodged allegations during 2002 that the city paid too much for its broadband Internet system and that the city’s consultant, Brunetti DEC, used unfair tactics to induce Internet companies to resell the city’s broadband to customers. But by the end of the year, the blame game quieted and one of the most ardent critics of the system, Sopris Surfers president Paul Huttenhower, came to terms with the city. He and other Internet service providers joined together to resell access to the broadband system, now called the Community Broadband Network. Once complete, city officials praised the work done by Brunetti DEC and fiber optic installer Manual Brothers. Just as Glenwood Springs was one of the first cities in Colorado to provide electricity to residents a century ago, it also sought to be on the cutting edge of new technology by providing high speed Internet access as a common utility.Nearly two years ago, city officials, spurred on by a similar state government project, began exploring the idea of installing a fiber optic network to link residents, businesses and community institutions to the Internet.A $3 million, three-part project assessing needs, designing the system and installing fiber optic cables and other equipment, was approved in steps by City Council.Funding for the project came from profits earned by the city’s Electric Department, and the department will manage the fiber optic system.The fiber optic system is the first wholly municipally owned system in Colorado. Officials said part of the reason the city installed the network is to reduce high speed Internet rates for residential customers to around $50 a month, about $15 to $20 less than current rates. But rates might end up even lower than that. Competition, however, looms near. AT&T Broadband plans to start offering high-speed Internet to customers in the lower Roaring Fork Valley sometime in 2003. City manager Mike Copp said the network will also work as an economic development tool, making the city more attractive to high-tech companies that might want to relocate here.Rather than directly providing Internet access, the city is acting as a “last-mile provider.” To this end, the city has signed contracts with at least two local Internet service providers to feed the World Wide Web into the city. The city system will relay Internet service into people’s homes via a wireless signal.


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