KAJX

Pitkin County making headway with broadband effort

May 8, 2015

Credit www.birchills.net

Reliable internet service in parts of Pitkin County is a problem officials have heard about from their constituents, and an overall broadband plan is getting closer to reality. Aspen Public Radio’s Carolyn Sackariason reports.

Residents in rural parts of the county think officials are working at dial-up speed in making readily available 21st century technology. Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock says now that results of a needs assessment are in, infrastructure  for broadband can begin next year. But don’t expect the process to move quickly, there’s a lot to unravel first.

“This isn’t just stringing wires and setting up routers,” says Peacock. “This is a pretty complex issue that we don’t want to go into without really understanding how we are going to deliver and pay for the service.”

Perhaps the biggest question is who will supply the funding. Providing internet and broadband service is not normally something the county is responsible for. But Peacock says since the private sector hasn’t entered the market, the county has had to reconsider its role.  

“The first step is going to be developing business models that we think are feasible and sustainable in this community,” says Peacock.”And then, based on those business models do a network design that identifies what investment we need to make as a public entity, probably in partnership...I don’t think we are going to be an ISP provider. We may find differently out of this.”

The business model will be centered around who the consumers will be and how far reaching the service will need to be. The county manager anticipates having enough design work done on a broadband system that there will definitely be funding next year to improve it.