Business

DMEA is working on “last mile” broadband challenge

dmea broadband

 

In the world of high-speed broadband networks, there is “the last mile” problem, i.e. how to get service to homes and small businesses. As part of a cooperative project with Region 10, the Delta Montrose Electric Association has been working on that since December. DMEA is developing a business plan and bringing fiber optic cable into their substations; the goal is to create a network that will deliver internet speeds of 100 Mbps (megabits per second) to 1 Gig (gigabits per second) to customers in Montrose and Delta Counties.

Currently, home internet service providers in this area top out at about 60 Mbps or less.

DMEA CEO Jasen Bronec recently delivered a progress report to folks gathered at the weekly Wednesday Forum at Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli, in Montrose.

As part of the business plan, DMEA has created a new entity called Elevate. “Elevate is a wholly owned subsidiary of DMEA,” Bronec explained. “The same board that governs DMEA oversees and governs Elevate. I’m the CEO of DMEA, but I’m also the president of Elevate.”

At this point, Elevate is working to gauge the amount of interest in high speed internet that exists in the Delta-Montrose area. You can express your interest by visiting the website https://join.elevatefiber.com/. “Based on the interest that’s put into that website, that’s how we’re going to deploy our services,” Bronec said.

Bronec added that only about fifty communities around the country now have 1 Gig internet service. “That would be a huge boost for our area economically to have that kind of service here.”

So just how fast is 1 Gig anyway? “It’s going to be blazing fast internet service”, according to Bronec. “1 Gigabit service? Most people don’t understand what that really means. We have turned up that service at DMEA and experienced it in our own office. When you go back to a 100 Mbps service, which is faster than most people have in our communities, it seems like you’re going at a crawl.”

Bronec pointed out that having this state of the art internet system will also help DMEA provide a greater variety of efficient electrical services. “By us having that high speed connectivity to the meter, we’ll actually be able to control the power sources to allow members to have more flexibility on how they have power delivered, and the options they have to control their electric bills.”

Elevate’s most minimal system will offer 100 Mbps download and upload speeds. “We’re also going to have a symmetrical upload and download speed of up to 1 Gigabit, which is a thousand Megabits per second,” Bronec said. The company also hopes to offer telephone service. “We’ve had a little bit of trouble with the Public Service Commission in getting our license. There are some policies and processes that have slowed that down,” Bronec revealed. “But we are on track to offer voice services, hopefully with our initial launch.”
Elevate also plans to offer video and TV services. “Video and TV have changed,” said Bronec. “The market is kind of over-the-top, with Netflix and Hulu, or Sling TV. You can get a lot of national content inexpensively.” As for local channels, “We will have local View channel that comes on a Roku box. We’re working on that solution right now.”

Bronec emphasized the need for local community support to make the high speed system happen. “You’re not only supporting high speed internet for your home, but you’re also supporting the advancement of the community. There are statistics that say fifty percent of today’s workforce will actually be able to work remotely in the next five years.” He added that many young people today decide where they want to live before choosing what they want to do. “By having a system in place that allows a community like Montrose to attract younger workers, who could live here but work anywhere, we could really give an economic boost to our community and our region.”

Construction will be driven by pre-registration; the more people who sign up in a given area, the sooner the system will be built.

Elevate is offering eight different pricing plans, including four for residences and four for businesses. Details are available at https://join.elevatefiber.com/#Services.

About the author

Dave Segal

Dave Segal

Dave Segal, a Detroit native, has been a journalist since 1977. He has worked as a reporter, commentator, and news director at radio stations in Detroit, Denver, and Montrose.

Dave has been writing and editing for the Monitor since its first print issue in 2003. He is editor and senior writer for the digital magazine. On the side, Dave has also done freelance writing, media relations, and a variety of volunteer work.