Broadband Communities

MAY-JUN 2012

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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Page 36 of 118

Building an Open-Access Network in a Small City Showing a true pioneering spirit, the city of Cortez, Colo., built a fiber network to support its business community. With expert advice, prudent decision making and a little luck, the network is on its way to success. By Rick Smith ■ City of Cortez The recreation center in Cortez was one of the first buildings connected to the fiber network. T he city of Cortez, with a popu- lation of 8,300, is located in the southwest corner of Colorado next to Mesa Verde National Park. Ag- riculture, tourism and some light indus- tries are the basis of its economy. Like most rural cities, Cortez does not have the numbers for the incumbent provider to make a business case for a next-gener- ation network. Te city's network efforts have al- ways been about economic develop- ment. In the pioneering spirit of the western United States, the city council decided in early 2000 to take the city's destiny into its own hands: If the big guys are not going to solve our connec- tivity problem, the council thought, we might as well solve it for ourselves. So the city started the Cortez Fi- ber Network. None of us involved in the project knew what a fiber network would look like; we only knew we wanted better services and options. We also needed an internal network to con- nect all the city facilities. Because the city was building a new service center for its vehicle fleet and public works operations at that time, we decided to make that location the hub of our new network. A LUCKY BREAK: JOINT TRENCHING Building a fiber network in a small com- munity sometimes requires a little luck. Ours came in the form of the regional electric transmission company's build- ing a fiber route that included connec- tivity to the incumbent carrier's central office. Te city was offered a chance to put empty conduit in the same trench About the Author Rick Smith is general services director of the city of Cortez, Colo. He has been responsi- ble for several fiber projects in Cortez and the surrounding county, beginning with the local government and school network in 2001 and including most recently the open- access fiber-to-the-business project. You can reach him at 30 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | MAY/JUNE 2012 the electric transmission company was using. Tus began our fiber network. We didn't even have a budget for the conduit, but our city council saw the value in getting started. City staff attended several day-long seminars on the benefits of fiber and be- came familiar with basic fiber network- ing. During the next budget cycle, we were able to start our fiber network with connections to our city facilities, in- town county facilities and the local hos- pital. We named this network Govnet because it connected most of the anchor institutions. Later, we were able to con- nect all the schools within city limits.

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