Broadband Study Update

OPALCO is on the home stretch in its year-long effort to explore the feasibility of expanding the existing fiber-optic network to create a telecommunications infrastructure that would serve San Juan County.

The goals of the initiative are to:

– Upgrade our electrical system by adding Smart Grid capabilities that will improve reliability and help members save money on energy costs

– Improve the communication system for local public safety first responders, including OPALCO, Sheriff, Fire, and EMS

– Provide our members with access to high-speed Internet service at speeds of at least ten megabits per second

– Create new opportunities for economic development and expanded cellular coverage in the county

OPALCO conducted a feasibility study early this year and have developed an initial plan. They are now engaged in a due diligence process, taking the analysis to the next level of detail, say staff. By working with industry experts, equipment vendors, and contractors to obtain specific cost estimates, OPALCO staff say that they will be able to make an informed business decision. “We are also conducting field tests to verify the technical capabilities of the system,” they added.

This due diligence process will yield a draft business plan for review by OPALCO’s board of directors. OPALCO expects this review to take place at the board’s Oct. 18 meeting. The business planning materials will also be posted at in November.

If the board approves the plan, OPALCO expects to host another round of public forums to explain and discuss the project’s direction and service offerings.

OPALCO thanks the many members who have weighed in on this project, those who attended the open forums in May, and those who worked long and hard in the public process to create a revised Wireless Ordinance.

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