Surf may be up in December for city’s broadband |

Surf may be up in December for city’s broadband

The first residential customers on the Glenwood Springs Community Broadband Network, or CBN, could be surfing the Internet in early December.

That’s when system operators will activate test accounts, AspenWorks partner Ken Pawlak said Monday.

“Our immediate goal is to get lighthouse accounts set up,” said Pawlak, from the company’s Seattle office. “What we’re trying to do is get a handful of lighthouse customers up to demonstrate quality.”

AspenWorks, based at the Aspen Airport Business Center, approached Glenwood Springs Electric Department manager John Hines to find out how the company could become the first Internet service provider for the city’s new system.

“They got in touch with us,” Glenwood Springs city manager Mike Copp said. “They knew we were looking.”

The city’s broadband system, estimated to cost around $3 million, will provide links from homes and businesses – also known as “last-mile connections” – to AspenWorks. From there, AspenWorks will connect those customers to the Internet.

The deal will enable AspenWorks and Glenwood Springs to make money from customers who use the network.

The lighthouse accounts will be “aggressively” peddled to customers in different parts of the city, Pawlak said, so that each area can be tested before offering the service to the general public.

“We’re doing that to show it’s a highly reliable network,” Pawlak said.

The system will be available to everyone else in Glenwood Springs by January or February 2003, he said.

The monthly fees for customers to tap into the city’s broadband system via AspenWorks have not been released yet, but Pawlak said they will be competitive with other high-speed systems.

“Prices will be announced soon,” Pawlak promised. “It will be better-priced than (digital subscriber line) prices.”

A digital subscriber line, or DSL, is a form of high-speed Internet access that has been available in Glenwood Springs since 2000.

Hines publicly announced the city had inked a deal with an Internet service provider on Oct. 17, but declined to give any details at that time. At Thursday’s Glenwood Springs City Council meeting, he finally announced that company is AspenWorks.

According to the AspenWorks Web site, the company was formed in 1999 by Alex Huppenthal. “There aren’t a lot of people who understand wireless Internet as well as Alex does,” Pawlak said of his partner.

Huppenthal worked with partner Rian Emrick “to provide underserved areas of the country with advanced communications services.”

Huppenthal has worked with RoFIntUG, Sopris Surfers and was co-founder of the Aspen Internet Exchange.

In addition to naming the first ISP for the Glenwood Springs Community Broadband Network – or CBN – Copp said the project is moving into Phase IV, where the city government will take over operations of the broadband system.

“That’s kind of handing off the technology and getting ready to get everyone hooked up,” he said of Phase IV. “We are getting calls and John Hines is taking names” of potential customers.

Denver-based design, engineering and construction company Brunetti DEC designed the system and operated it since construction was completed in May. The network was originally slated to fire up in July, but delays have kept it offline.

Copp estimated the final cost of the project, which originally was estimated in Brunetti’s business plan to cost $2.4 million, will be closer to $3 million.

Also at last Thursday’s meeting, City Councilman Don Gillespie asked Copp and Hines to provide a more comprehensive explanation of Phase IV.

“I wasn’t so much interested in the previous phases, but I was interested in the fourth phase,” Gillespie said.

He’s is trying to determine just how much Phase IV will cost and when the city will take over operations of the system.

“We’re trying to get rid of them as quickly as possible,” he said of Brunetti DEC.

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