Rifle looking to add more fiber-optic internet capability | PostIndependent.com

Rifle looking to add more fiber-optic internet capability

Citizen Telegram

Ideas are brewing over how Rifle can make strides toward improving local internet services.

Rifle City Manager Tommy Klein said on Friday that the city’s ultimate goal is to transition more residents from digital subscriber line services to fiber-optic internet.

“We’re just getting conversations started on how to address that need in our community,” he said. “I think there’s several different models the community can deploy in providing high-speed internet.”

Right now, most Rifle residents rely primarily on DSL internet. The service connects to copper infrastructure already available in most homes.

But the service is at times unreliable, Klein said. Meanwhile, fiber-optic use is limited in Rifle.

“I think people like the reliability of fiber,” he said. “There is satellite internet, but that’s not as dependable.”

Internet services in Rifle are currently offered exclusively by private companies like Xfinity and CenturyLink.

One option to broaden broadband within Rifle would be for the city itself to offer internet. Klein said this proposal is currently unfeasible for the city, however.

Something more feasible involves the Garfield County government.

In December 2021, the county supplemented $200,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds for Vero Fiber Networks LLC to build fiber-optic infrastructure along Interstate 70.

With this project, Glenwood Springs and Rifle can connect to the fiber lines and essentially turn themselves into internet hubs overnight.

“The thought is, if you connect to that roadway and bring it into the community at a meet-up area, then allow companies to come in and tap into that system,” Klein said. “That incentivizes people to offer high-speed internet — because that’s a huge cost.”

Meanwhile, there are two places users can access free internet in Rifle: City Hall and the Rifle Branch Library.

Klein said the city is also looking at the possibility of expanding free wifi services to the entire downtown area, as well as Centennial Park.

“It won’t be fast enough for businesses,” he said. “It’s for visitors attending events.”

So far, however, there’s no timeline as to when Rifle makes a decision on what to do with internet services.

“We’re still looking at solutions to help speed things along in Rifle,” Klein said.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@citizentelegram.com.

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