Consider LPEA broadband petition

How is your internet connection? Is it stable and fast? You might believe that everyone in Durango has access to quality, affordable broadband. And yet I have been on literally dozens of Zoom meetings where I know that someone is in Durango but has a lousy connection!

Especially during the pandemic, we have come to understand that broadband access is no longer a luxury but a necessity. Remote learning, working from home and telehealth are all difficult, if not impossible, without good broadband. And really good broadband needs fiber optic.

So, are the current broadband providers willing to invest significant amounts of money to improve our broadband? I would say almost certainly not. The situation is analogous to what occurred with electricity during the 1930s and 1940s. The electric companies were willing to provide electricity in the larger cities, but they were not willing to invest in providing electricity in more rural areas. That’s why the rural electric coops were created. And today we all enjoy reliable and affordable electricity.

If the current broadband providers will not make the investments required, is there anyone else who can or will do this? Well, our own La Plata Electric Association is in a good situation to provide quality, affordable broadband to its members. They already have poles spread over both La Plata and Archuleta counties. They also have fiber optic cable already deployed to serve their internal needs. And, finally, they have a broadband subsidiary, FastTrack Communications, which has the experience and expertise required. LPEA is also used to taking on projects with longer payback. LPEA exists to benefit the members, not make a profit.

There is some risk with LPEA taking on this project, but I believe it is moderate and manageable. Our neighbor co-op, Delta-Montrose Electric Association, established a subsidiary to bring cable to its members, and it has years of experience that it can share. If I lived in Montrose, I could get 1Gbs upload and download for the same price that I currently pay for 15Mbs down and 3 Mbs up!

If you believe that LPEA should play a strong leadership role in bringing quality, affordable broadband to our area, then please consider signing our petition requesting this. You can find the petition at https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/lpea-broadband. Let the Board of Directors of LPEA know that their members need quality, affordable broadband.

– Guinn Unger, former LPEA board member