Garfield County broadband strategy advancing

Request for proposals in the works for equipment, operations

September 11, 2017

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – A strategy to improve broadband services for residents in Garfield County is moving forward, with a focus on rural areas where service is unreliable, or currently non-existent.

Garfield County contracted with consulting firm NEO Connect this summer to assess the next steps in how to best implement more reliable broadband services, following the completion of a countywide needs-assessment study and strategic plan.

The strategic plan identified three important steps, including establishing “middle-mile” and “last-mile” connections, and a wireless system that reaches residents in more rural areas. Middle-mile infrastructure connects municipalities and anchor institutions, while the last mile carries service to the subscribers’ premises. The last mile strategy has also been shared with local municipalities so they may consider options for running fiber to these premises.

The county, with help from NEO Connect, is creating a request for proposals (RFP) for wireless equipment and operation of the rural system, and will manage the bidding process and vendor selection, as well as installation of equipment. Use of tower sites not owned by the county will be considered, and wireless service providers could potentially use that infrastructure to connect with households and businesses. The county is considering funding additional wireless equipment to increase bandwidth, making services more affordable, especially in more remote areas.

“I would like to get this wireless implementation going right away,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said. “I’m equally encouraged by the other two initiatives as well.”

In June, the Board of County Commissioners directed county staff to move forward with wireless system implementation, and return in 2018 with planning for public-private partnerships to implement the middle-mile system.