High-speed 'Net service begins in county

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Most South Routt governmental entities such as schools and libraries will be able to access online sites with high-speed wireless services as of today.

The services should be available to South Routt residents in another week.

The access is being made possible through the Beanpole Project, a statewide effort to provide high-speed technology in rural communities.

In November, Routt County commissioners signed an agreement with NC Telecom, the company providing the services. The county agreed to lease a piece of land to the company where transmission towers can be installed and also guaranteed the company $24,000 to pay for activation fees.

The company put antennas on towers at the Edna Mine in Oak Creek and on Emerald Mountain in Steamboat Springs in early December, and started connecting governmental entities to the service Friday, said NC Telecom Operations Manager Rick Heming.

Because of snow and bad weather, the installments took slightly longer than expected. Some sites were accessible only by snowmobile, and a horse-drawn sled was required to reach the towers on Emerald Mountain, Heming said.

The company is not yet taking orders from residents in the area, Heming said.

Heming said he is working to get home prices to less than $40 per month. Now, prices are estimated to be $44 per month per household, which he said is similar to services in Steamboat Springs.

The entities that will receive service first are the Oak Creek Fire Protection District, the Oak Creek ambulance department, Routt County's Road and Bridge yards in Oak Creek and Yampa, the libraries in Oak Creek and Yampa, and the community college in Oak Creek.

The Beanpole Project works by aggregating government demand for infrastructure and then contracting with providers, using state funds to guarantee providers at least three years of service.

"We're excited about getting South Routt hooked up and I'm sure we'll have a number of folks down there we'll be able to provide services to," Heming said.

Residents who are interested in signing up for the service can call 1-866-NC-TELECOM.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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