ADVISORY PANEL STILL WORKING ON COUNTY BROADBAND ISSUES
Flip Boettcher, Correspondent
Posted: Friday, September 16, 2016 4:40 pm
(use with permission by The Flume newspaper)
Broadband. How many millions of people use, depend on, and literally demand broadband every day? Loosely defined by the Random House Dictionary, broadband: of, pertaining to or responsive to a continuous, wide range of telecommunications frequencies.
According to Wikipedia, in telecommunications, broadband is any wide bandwidth data transmission, which can transmit multiple types and signals at the same time. These transmissions can be over coaxial cable, fiber optics or radio. In referring to internet access, broadband means any high-speed access that is always on and faster than dial-up access.
The term broadband became popular in the 1990s as a marketing term for faster internet access. Broadband bandwidth is measured in the amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed period of time.
For digital devices like cell phones and computers, bandwidth is usually expressed in bits per second, with a bit being the basic computing unit. That is the amount of data that can flow across your connection in one second. Most internet connections are rated in mega bits per second, or about million bits per second. A gigabit per second is about 1000 Mbps. Transmission is two-way: downloading, which is usually the fastest speed and uploading, which is usually a slower speed.
Park County is composed of different communities, all mostly without broadband and cell phone services, but Park County is one of two counties in the state working on the problem. But, like roads, said Brazell, it is never done. Just to keep up, not expand, with current use, broadband capacity needs to double every year. The trend for broadband use and need is only expected to increase. Telecommunication services don¹t just happen, said Brazell, you have to do something. Broadband needs to be built into an area¹s infrastructure, just like power, water and sewer services.
To get rural telecommunications it takes public and private financing as well as partnerships, Brazell added. In February, 2016, the Park County Board of County Commissioners created an eleven member Park County Broadband Advisory Board.
Its purpose is to advise county officials and staff on how to improve telecommunications in Park County with regards to economic development, attracting new residents and keeping up with developing telecommunications issues. Board members are appointed by the BOCC for terms lasting from one to three years, according to board chairman John Carr.
Carr spent 35 years in banking technology. Other board members are: Lou Gonzalez, Mike Joffe, Jesse Mair, Kristi Olson, Ron Rose, Pat Sohmer, Gene Stanley, BJ North, Bill Betz, and Dr. Brenda Krage. Getting broadband from the source to your home or business is quite complicated.
According to Wikipedia, a computer network is a collection of interconnected computers or devices that enhances communications and allows sharing of information among the interconnected devices. According to the Park County broadband website, a backbone telecommunications network, like CenturyLink, ties various computer networks together.
The middle mile (not necessarily a mile) connects the backbone and the local network access point, like an Internet Service Provider, from whom you purchase your internet service. The last mile is how service gets from the ISP to your home or business. Last mile broadband is typically delivered by telephone companies, cable television providers or fiber optic cable. Satellite is a last mile provider, but because of its slower download speeds, it is not considered high-speed broadband.
The Federal Communications Commission requires download speeds of 25 Mgbs for broadband. No network can run faster than the bandwidth capacity of its last mile.
According to Carr, Park County is in the process of developing a community owned middle mile broadband backbone network for the county. Multiple carriers will provide connection points for last mile providers to access broadband. From the broadband website, “High-speed broadband is the basic infrastructure of the digital age, just like power, streets and water. Access to high-speed broadband will be a requirement for all aspects of our lives, including education, health, business and government transactions and our social connections. Lack of access to high-speed broadband will have a crippling effect on a Region’s economic future.”
Look for two upcoming articles addressing why broadband is important to Park County and current Park County broadband activities. The PCBAB meets the third Monday of the Month in Fairplay, at the Fairplay Community Center from 10 a.m. until noon. Residents are welcome to attend.