Broadband project is now complete, operational in Moffat County

Craig Press Staff

The 10-county, 400-mile fiber transport network project, known as Project THOR, became operational on April 7, the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG) and Critical Broadband Infrastructure partnership announced.

Project THOR establishes a carrier-class connectivity between 14 rural, mountain communities across Northwest Colorado to the NWCCOG Point of Presence in Denver. Because the network creates multiple loops ensuring at least with two routes to Denver, utilizing Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) fiber along I-70 to Glenwood Springs, Highway 9 to Frisco to Breckenridge and a combination of dark fiber and existing fiber services running north through Meeker, Craig, Steamboat Springs and Grand County, it provides resilient broadband service to communities that suffer regular outages at an affordable price, the announcement states.

Project partners each have local plans to resell service to end users or leverage THOR for public-private partnerships to do so, according to a press release.

Project THOR meets a need expressed by local partners across Northern Colorado for many years.

A number of communities have engaged in local broadband projects but lacked affordable, redundant, high quality middle mile broadband service to support those efforts.

Partners include three counties, four municipalities, one local consortium of anchor institutions, one rural electric co-op and a health district which together have contracted with NWCCOG to serve as the network owner for Project THOR.

Mammoth Networks is contracted to serve as the network operator, the NWCCOG said. Project THOR is the backbone infrastructure that will enable these partners to provide service to underserved communities directly, or through private internet service providers (ISPs).

This is especially important as COVID-19 highlights the broadband needs of hospitals, healthcare providers, schools, local governments, public safety and businesses.

Project THOR automatically re-routes traffic when a single fiber cut or other service outages occur, preventing the hours-long service interruptions which have become commonplace in many of the participating communities.

Additionally, the network is built using world-class network equipment from Ciena Corporation, which is easily upgradable and provides a platform that can be scaled as demand continues to increase, according to NWCCOG. Local funding for the project has been matched by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) through a $1 million grant for network infrastructure and another $270,000 grant to fund the first three years of fiber leased from CDOT.

The network enabled by Project THOR infrastructure is now operational and serving each network partner. Optimizing, tuning and increasing network capabilities will continue through 2020 and beyond.

NWCCOG continues to provide technical support for local projects through the broadband program across the northern half of the state of Colorado through member funding matched by DOLA. Though there is no formal timeline, NWCCOG is in discussion with communities geographically situated to connect to Project THOR through a THOR 2.0.

Internet service providers and anchor institutions are encouraged to contact the local partners in each community that are utilizing Project THOR for pricing and services to learn how they can leverage the project.

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