Internet consortium dishes up tempting offer to Glenwood |

Internet consortium dishes up tempting offer to Glenwood

If you can’t beat `em, join `em.

That’s apparently the motive for four Roaring Fork Valley Internet service providers, which teamed up to pitch a hastily-created offer Thursday to the Glenwood Springs City Council.

Just as the City Council was about to consider signing AspenWorks as the Internet Service Provider for the city’s $3 million fiber optic network, the Glenwood Springs Information Technology Consortium made what it saw as a better offer.

The offer led City Council to pull consideration of the AspenWorks contract from the agenda.

The consortium consists of Sopris Surfers, RoFIntUG, Crimson Wireless and Desktop Solutions, but company officials stressed that other ISPs could join any time.

An ISP is a company that provides a link for business and residential computer users to access the World Wide Web, or Internet. Monthly fees are based on varying levels of service.

The city’s fiber optic project will provide “last-mile access” for customers to a high-speed broadband network, basically forming a link from homes and businesses to the city’s network operation center.

From there, the city has two choices. The city can hire an ISP to tap those connections to the Internet, or create a connection on its own.

If the city uses the services of another company, such as Sopris Surfers or Crimson Wireless, it would have to pay, cutting profits. On the other hand, if the city creates its own ISP, it must pay for the connection, provide customer service and repairs, and handle the marketing.

Part of the proposed 90-day contract with AspenWorks included consulting on which of these options would be most cost-effective and best for customers.

Desktop Solutions president Bob McNutt outlined the consortium’s offer to council during the citizens’ input portion of the meeting.

He said each of the four ISPs would offer three customers to the city to be used as “lighthouse,” or test accounts. In addition to those 12 customers, the city would need to provide 10 customers. These customers, strategically chosen from different parts of the city, would give the system a real-world trial run.

The four companies will perform a site survey for each customer and install the wireless Internet equipment, as long as the city agrees to pay for this equipment.

“Jointly, we can determine the state of the network and the options available for further rollouts,” the consortium said.

“The information gained during that would be the city’s property to do with what you want,” McNutt said to council. “The customers would also be the city’s.”

In addition to the setup and service, the consortium indicated it would like to form a management committee to oversee and provide input into the process.

AspenWorks had offered a similar deal, but it was going to charge the city a consulting fee of $8,650 per month, plus a $5 per month, per customer, charge to provide Internet service.

The consortium will charge nothing for consulting fees, but will charge $20 per month, per customer, in Internet access fees.

If the city offers residential high-speed Internet access for $49 per month, it will be able to keep $29 of that money.

“The city will stop spending money and start making money immediately,” the consortium’s statement said. “Our services will be at no charge to the city. We will provide free consulting, engineering, site surveys and installation support.”

In response to the consortium’s offer, City Council set up a special workshop meeting at 1 p.m. Monday in the City Hall.

“I’m a firm believer that the city staff had tremendous leadership and foresight in making this a success,” McNutt said. “We feel it’s important for the city.”

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