Company makes headway in laying fiber-optic cable |

Company makes headway in laying fiber-optic cable

Tyler Baskfield

The ground has been broken that will bring the information age to Craig’s doorstep.

On Nov. 10 NC Telecom’s General Manager, Dennie Mecham, announced construction had begun on the company’s fiber optic network in Northwestern Colorado. Mecham said it was the first stage in the development of NC Telecom’s advanced digital telecommunications network, which when completed will connect the communities in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties.

“Residents of the two counties will no longer be part of the digital divide, which in the past meant not having the ability to have access to all the information age has to offer,” Mecham said.

The first phase will connect Craig and Rifle. From Rifle, NC Telecom has contracted with another telecommunications company to use existing fiber to Grand Junction, said Kevin Manwilder, network operations manager for NC Telecom. This phase of the project will complete Moffat County’s obligation to the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) to have a DS3 fiber optic network from the Moffat County Public Safety Center to the CSP headquarters in Grand Junction.

The construction, which started in Craig, has already past the Colowyo coal mine off of Colorado Highway 13.

Once the obligation to the CSP is met, phase two of the project, connecting Meeker to Rangley, will begin and Rangley will be linked to Vernal via preexisting fiber owned by UBETA Telecommunications Company.

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Phase three of the project will be linking Craig, Hayden and Steamboat Springs, and connecting government buildings to the network using state grants from the Bean Pole fund.

The first phase will be completed between late April and early June, Manwilder said.

“It depends upon the weather,” he said. “We were really hoping for a winter like last year. Either way the network has to be up and operating prior to the opening of the building (The Moffat County Public Safety Center).”

NC Telecom has refined the construction process for laying the fiber optic network. A D-9 Cat cuts a trench between 48 and 96 inches deep under ground and lays down three ducts. As the Cat proceeds, it covers up the ducts. If the fiber needs to go through a wetland or an environmentally-sensitive area, a tunnel is bored under the area and the ducts are pushed through.

“We are very careful around environmentally-sensitive areas,” Manwilder said.

Once the entire span of ducts is in place, the fiber is blown through two miles at a time using high-pressure air.

Once the network is complete, NC Telecom will be able to offer broadband data service including: DSL, video and high-speed Internet service, as well as local- and long-distance services, Manwilder said. With the DSL Internet access, speeds could be boosted to 50 times the current speed.

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