Local internet provider upgrades system to offer service in Moffat County’s rural communities | CraigDailyPress.com

Local internet provider upgrades system to offer service in Moffat County’s rural communities

A map of Craig and the surrounding communities shows the areas where High Rapid Networks offers high-speed internet services in Moffat County.
High Rapid Networks/Courtesy image

High Rapid Networks, a locally owned internet service provider, has spent the past year upgrading its system in an effort to extend high-speed internet service to all Moffat County residents.

Additionally, company officials say that the improved internet access could support the community through its coming economic transition. 

High Rapid provides high-speed internet services in Moffat and Routt counties, and Tyler Johnson, one of three owners, said the company has grown a lot since it launched five years ago. 

“Over the past 18 months, I have noticed a lot of things happening around town with the coal transition, and people talking about what is going to happen when the coal plants close,” Johnson said. “So we have been trying to get involved in the community to make the transition easier.” 

Johnson said the system upgrades will allow High Rapid’s local internet service to move about five times faster and provide access to all Moffat County residents. 

“We made a big investment into the network because we want people here in Craig to have access to good internet,” Johnson said. “So when the plants close, people can get remote jobs and so people with remote jobs can move here and continue working and keep that money in the community.” 

With the upgrades, High Rapid can provide high-speed internet to the towns of Lay and Maybell, said Johnson, who added that the company has put a focus on the rural components of service. 

There are other internet service providers in the area to choose from, but Johnson said High Rapid’s wireless service is unique because it uses fiber optic cable in the area to transmit through 50 tower sites to individual customers. The towers are located all around Moffat County, and Johnson said, “If you can see a tower from your house, you will be able to get internet access.” 

“We think the community will be stronger if everyone in the county has access to the internet,” he said.

Johnson explained that when the company first started out, the owners each came up with $40,000 in funding, and for the first couple of years, none of them made a salary. Johnson added that the owners worked part time jobs to get by, and in the last two years, they all started working directly for the company full time. High Rapid now has eight employees, all of whom live in Craig except for one remote staff member in Fort Collins. 

“One of the things that is really important to us is that the money customers give us each month is going back into the community,” Johnson said. 

High Rapid’s first internet customer in Craig was the Community Budget Center, a nonprofit thrift store that provides assistance to community members in need. The company has continued to work with the Budget Center to identify residents who need assistance paying for internet access or their monthly service bills.

The company also provides free internet service to several public spaces including Craig City Hall, the Museum of Northwest Colorado, the Department of Human Services, the Road and Bridge Department, the water plant, Moffat County Fairgrounds, the Maybell Library and Breeze Street Park.  

“The city and county have been amazing allies to help us reach the community and help us put up the additional tower sites,” Johnson said. “They are committed just like we are to getting everyone in the community online.” 

High Rapid also provides internet across downtown Craig from a tower atop the Budget Center, and anyone visiting the downtown area can access four hours of free internet per day.

During events downtown, the service is opened up for the whole weekend so that visitors can access the internet and so that vendors and food trucks can use the internet to accept electronic payments for their goods. 

“There are so many events that happen here during the year,” Johnson said. “Being able to attract more people is going to attract more business and help bring more money into the community.” 

Johnson estimated that 25% of local internet customers are using High Rapid services, even though the team, for now, doesn’t have a traditional storefront office space. 

“We all work from home,” Johnson said. “And the reason why we do that is because rather than spending money on office space, we save money so we can pass that saving on to the customer.” 

High Rapid does rent space in the Chaos Ink building on Russell Street, where inventory and equipment is kept. The company also uses the space to maintain its service vehicles. 

By the end of the year, High Rapid is planning to offer some customer-facing services in the Russell Street building for anyone who wants to come in and talk to someone in person, Johnson said. For more about High Rapid, call 970-701-4141 or go to HighRapid.com

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