Lillian Cook of One Track, Sandy Head of MEDC, Patrick Swonger of EAGLE-Net and Dan-io Farnese of Elite Broadband celebrate the arrival of EAGLE-Net infrastructure.

Lillian Cook of One Track, Sandy Head of MEDC, Patrick Swonger of EAGLE-Net and Danio Farnese of Elite Broadband celebrate the arrival of EAGLE-Net infrastructure.



By Caitlin Switzer

REGIONAL—(September 3, 2013)  It was a quiet victory, noted in a small press conference at the offices of the Montrose Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) on Aug. 27. And yet, the news that Montrose, Ridgway and Ouray are now connected to the statewide EAGLE-Net cooperative network—with speeds up to one gigabit or 1,000 megabits of data capability– will reverberate through the region as more and more residents realize the advantages of expanded broadband capabilities and critical path redundancy.

A Colorado intergovernmental entity, EAGLE-Net continues its mission to build a sustainable “middle mile” network to better connect education, libraries, government and health care facilities statewide, MEDC noted in a news release. MEDC Chair Sandy Head highlighted the positive impacts of the EAGLE-Net activation in Montrose, Ridgway and Ouray.

“We rode on the wings of EAGLE-Net,” Head said at the press conference. “There is nobody who will not benefit. This provides an opportunity to bring a whole other “leg” of infrastructure to our region, and gives us a competitive edge.”

The project was a public-private initiative, and accomplishes “middle-mile” infrastructure, allowing Internet Service Providers to tap into the network and encouraging economic development, she said. For EAGLE Net, which will now move forward to Delta, the establishment of the middle-mile infrastructure is one more step in its charge to build a statewide middle-mile network by August of 2013 in accordance with the $100.6 million Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant that it received in Sept. of 2010 from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

Both Head and Patrick Swonger of EAGLE-Net gave credit to Virgil Turner of the City of Montrose and Peter Crowell of the Region 10 League for Economic Assistance & Planning for spearheading the effort to bring EAGLE Net to the region.

“In many ways this is still the frontier,” Swonger said. “In the past, when a large infrastructure project was completed, you would have a highway or something significant to show for it…the redundancy that this project brings is equally important. The interstate of information has arrived in Montrose. Now, when someone runs a backhoe and puts a bucket through a cable, another cable can pick things up.

“This type of capacity and security of connection is what this business community needs.”

Now, “last mile” providers can tap into the network, eliminating monopolies, he said, noting that EAGLE Net is a sustainable entity that is connecting 170 primary sites.

“Now, anyone can access and use this infrastructure for transport,” he said.

Also at the news conference were Danio Farnese of Elite Broadband, the local company has that stepped up to serve rural users after the demise of Stelera Broadband, and Lillian Cook of One Track Communications, both of whom were important to the tech planning team.

“We want to see our community grow,” Cook said. “Collaboration is what made it happen, and I do appreciate everyone who has been in a fever to get it done!”

In Ouray, the infrastructure will help keep local schools among the state’s finest, said Ouray School District Superintendent Scott Pankow in the news release.

“As a rural school, we’re very excited to join the EAGLE Net Alliance,” Pankow said. “We now have broadband services to match our goal of remaining at the top ten percent of Colorado districts as a center of excellence for innovative education.”

“Technology is where it’s at,” Sandy Head said. “There are businesses here that are connected globally. People want Skype, and they want face time. They want to do business. This helps open our doors, and expand our capabilities.”