Our Mid-Rivers construction crew and two contractors have been installing fiber cable at a rapid pace this summer, which is one of the few positive things that comes out of having little to no moisture all year. Our own crew is nearing completion of a Fiber to the Premise (FTTP) build-out in the town of Circle, while contractors are wrapping up FTTP builds in the towns of Richey, Fallon, Savage and Ekalaka. Still on the schedule for this year’s construction season are Plevna and Winnett.
We are currently ahead of schedule on our long-term FTTP build-out plan, and are happy to announce that we have shaved almost five years off of the schedule. Partnerships with capable contractors have been a big help, but the greatest factor in our ability to speed things up has really been FOCUS. Every day it becomes more and more clear that fiber is the only real long-term answer for meeting rural broadband needs. Rather than cobbling together substandard interim solutions that require substantial time and effort to turn up and to keep running, we need to focus on building fiber to you as fast as we can.
Unfortunately, this can mean some near-term disappointment for customers currently on those “substandard” Internet services like 700 MHz fixed wireless, rural DSL, and satellite services. We used to spend days trying to troubleshoot individual DSL problems on miles of 40-year-old plant that was never designed to carry Internet services, and cannot provide true “broadband” speeds even when working at optimal levels. We have sent technicians to places like Cohagen over and over to try and rejuvenate fixed wireless equipment that is years past its prime and also doesn’t provide true broadband. We will still do all we can to keep your voice services up and running in these areas today, but many of these customers have been notified that their Internet services have known limitations and are not adequate for many of today’s broadband applications. If you are on services known as 700 MHz or EDSL, you can keep those services (but don’t disconnect them, we aren’t able to do any reconnects), and they typically work fine for low-bandwidth applications like email or light web browsing. They are not meant for video streaming or other high-bandwidth uses, and the more you try to video stream the worse the experience will get for you and your neighbors. Until we can get to you with fiber, there are satellite beams open again for Exede satellite service, and in some areas we can offer a newer fixed wireless option.
For those lucky members on the 2017 fiber schedule, many of whom will get to move from EDSL to fiber, we are excited to announce upcoming “Food with Fiber” events. We would love to have you join us for a free meal (don’t worry, it’s burgers and chips, no broccoli-eating required). These will be informal events where you can learn about how the transition to fiber will work and your service options on these new state-of-the-art facilities.
Richey – Richey Park (on Main Street) – Tuesday, August 1 – 4:00 – 6:30 PM
Fallon – Fallon Park – Thursday, August 3 – 4:00 – 6:30 PM
Ekalaka – Carter Co. Fairgrounds – Thursday, August 10 – 4:00 – 6:30 PM
Savage – Maschera Park – Tuesday, August 15 – 4:00 – 6:30 PM
We will be scheduling future events in this year’s other FTTP towns at a later date. We look forward to visiting with you!
I also wanted to share a quick note about the devastating wildfires that the people of Garfield and surrounding counties have been dealing with. Our thoughts go out to you all, and we will be working with families who have lost homes on re-establishing services. We can offer you some financial relief, so please give us a call. Overall the damage to Mid-Rivers’ facilities appears to be manageable at this point, as the fires burned through quickly and in very rural areas. The power pole was burnt down at our Mosby/Brown Divide cell site, but we kept it going with battery power, and fire got to some pedestals that are being replaced. We’ve also had to increase the capacity at our cell sites in the area due to the high volume of traffic, and are very glad to do so. Recovering from this tragedy will be a long-term effort for many families – please keep them in your thoughts and give what you can to help them out. The Garfield County Fire Foundation Relief Fund has been created to help the victims.