New Castle, Silt catch high-speed wireless train

Greg Masse
Post Independent Staff

New Castle and Silt are close on the high-tech heels of Glenwood Springs in getting wireless broadband for residents. Both towns are being connected to a wireless broadband, or high-speed Internet, system run by Glenwood Springs-based Internet service provider Crimson Wireless.

The towns are not required to make any investment, yet they will pick up revenue in return for letting Crimson Wireless use their utility infrastructure.

Bill Challis, Internet administrator for Crimson Wireless, approached town officials in New Castle and Silt months ago to explain how high-speed Internet – with upload and download speeds of 256 kilobytes per second – could be offered to residents and businesses.

“The town of New Castle wanted to provide broadband to its residents,” Challis reported Monday. “We also have worked out a deal with the town of Silt.”

The service costs $50 per month for residential or business access, plus one-time charges of $250 for the wireless equipment and $99 for installation.

After the company’s initial investment is paid for, Crimson will give New Castle 5 percent and Silt 7 percent of the monthly customer fees in exchange for allowing the company to use town infrastructure, Challis said.

After more than six months of setup work, the wireless system is functional in New Castle.

“We put our services into the New Castle downtown and established repeater sites,” Challis said.

At tonight’s regular meeting, the New Castle Town Council will consider whether to allow Crimson Wireless to install repeaters on city-owned infrastructure, such as a water tank. If that is approved, Challis said, 100 percent of New Castle town will be within range of Crimson’s wireless system.

Silt’s system is expected to be turned on by week’s end, he said.

Overall, the wireless service will extend from Canyon Creek Estates, just west of Glenwood Springs, to Silt, Challis said. The wireless coverage area will also reach potential customers south of Interstate 70. Crimson Wireless is also looking at setting up a similar system in Rifle.

Challis said the Crimson Wireless plan differs from the Glenwood Springs broadband plan in that the towns don’t need to make any investment in the system, yet customers will receive high-speed Internet and some revenue.

Glenwood Springs spent $3 million on a city-owned fiber optics system, but will receive a greater return from its customer fees.

Jim Stevens, project coordinator for New Castle, said the system is already bringing relief to a stressed phone system at the New Castle Town Hall.

“There are only three telephone lines and until last week there were busy signals,” he said, “and that’s not acceptable.”

Stevens worked with Challis to get the system running in New Castle. A symposium on the technology held Saturday in New Castle was well-attended, he said.

“It was good to have the interest shown,” he said. “I think it’s a good indicator that there’s a desire to get broadband access.”

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

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