SAN LUIS VALLEY- The keynote speaker for the Upper Rio Grande Economic Development meeting this Tuesday, Sept. 1, was Ciello and SLVREC Chief Technology Officer Monroe Johnson. Johnson gave a brief and informative PowerPoint presentation via Zoom which included updates on past and future projects within the company and some insight into how Ciello is handling its COVID-19 response.
Johnson began with an introduction into the Ciello fiberoptic broadband projects in the Valley stating that the company has installed 630 miles of fiber plant with 14 more miles in progress. “I am always excited to talk about what we are doing and what our current plans are, what our challenges are and where we are heading. Our goal is to make our fiberoptic broadband service available throughout the Valley. Today, we have a mixture of fiber and wireless service available and ultimately we want to get fiber deployed throughout the San Luis Valley.”
Johnson continued stating that the company has around 8,000 fiber “passings,” which he explained was fiber that has been installed along homes that are not necessarily connected to the fiberoptic services, but that can access it and be connected to it if people choose. “For example, if we build down an alley in Del Norte with 25 homes on each side of the alley, then we say we have 25 ‘passings.’ This is how many homes and businesses that our fiber has passed.”
Johnson stated that they also have 4,000 wireless “passings” including two public Wi-Fi locations that are located at Chapman Park in Monte Vista and La Jara Town Park with more possible public internet access locations in the works. “We are working on 415 more “passings” right now. We have 110 wireless sectors deployed, wireless deployed in all of our substations on the Valley floor and a few additional locations around Russell Lakes and Villa Grove.”
“We have talked a lot in the past about redundancy out of the Valley. We have four routes today; one over Poncha Pass, three routes over La Veta Pass and then we have fiber on top of Wolf Creek with additional work to be completed in the near future.”
Johnson explained that the company is in the process of converting their phone service to another phone provider out of Utah and that though the process has been a little rocky, they know that in the end it will be more beneficial to their phone service customers in the long run. “We have around 2,500 phone numbers active with people on our network. We have recently upgraded to a new phone service provider out of Utah. This upgrade, or conversion, has frankly been a little rocky. We have had quite a few issues with the conversion and getting the two networks to operate. Ultimately, we still feel it will be a good thing for all of us because we have a lot more control and can respond to people’s needs much quicker.”
At the end of the presentation, Johnson touched a little bit on what the company has done in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how they plan to move forward. Johnson stated that the company has postponed service disconnections and continues to work with people during this difficult time. The company has also worked closely with schools in the Valley including Center School District, Mountain Valley School District and Creede School district to ensure safe and secure online learning capabilities.