By Caitlin Switzer
MONTROSE–(June 4, 2013) When one door closes, another one opens—and the demise of Stelera Broadband last month means opportunity for more than one local entrepreneur. Stelera had created a market among underserved rural Internet users across the nation with its 3G network, but most of the company’s lo-cal users should now be able to find a comparably priced service, according to local computer professionals.
“We have been getting lots and lots of calls,” Sue Tolvo of Computer Business Solutions said. “If you live in town, there are plenty of options. The biggest problem is for people who live in outlying areas where you can’t get high speed Internet through your phone or cable provider. I know of two compa-nies that provide service out there—one of them is Elite Broadband; we have known Danio Farnese for a long time, and he has really been working to get things up and running. The other is Elevated Access, which I don’t know much about.”
A homegrown option, Elite began as a personal quest for better online access. “We have been in business about four years,” said Farnese. “We knew this com-munity needed better Internet service; I needed better service, my friends needed better service, my family needed better service. We have been very successful.” Elite Broadband has a redundant, fiber-fed network up to its towers, and the net-work between towers is very robust, Farne-se said. The company currently employs four including Farnese, and intends to grow.
“We do cover parts of Downtown, but mainly we are rural,” he said. “From Ridgway to Delta—and we’ll be going from Delta to Cedaredge in the next few weeks. We plan to keep expanding on out. Our average package starts at $45, and we have a higher priced option at $60 and a lower priced on at $30—it all depends on the speed you want.”
Farnese, who was home-schooled and graduated in 2002, learned his business “the hard way,” building communication towers and working in communications for local dispatch organizations.
“It started out because we wanted better service, so we created something in line with what we wanted,” he said. “And we offer real support—you can actually get me on the phone.”
Longtime Montrose computer business Deeply Digital has also received “tons of calls” about Internet service since Stelera Broadband announced its closure, noted staffer Casey Irving.
“Stelera poured money into their idea, but it was really expensive for what they were charging, and hard to manage,” Irving said. “It’s unlikely that another company will come along to do what they were doing. But Elite Broadband has towers, and we just partnered with another business to create our own Internet Service Provider, ClearNetwork. If people are looking for service, just call—local companies will be able to tell you if they have coverage where you live.”