Beanpole to be celebrated today

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— State and local officials will celebrate the Northwest Colorado Beanpole Project today, but one of the project's main goals has yet to be completed.

The Yampa Valley Economic Development Council, which spent the last few years working on the Beanpole Project, is holding a celebration tonight in honor of its near completion.

The council, comprised of elected officials from Routt, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties, has invited state and local officials to the celebration.

"Basically, the program now is not quite complete," said Routt County Commissioner Dan Ellison, who sits on the council. "But it is getting that way."

The Beanpole Project is part of a state-funded technology initiative to bring high-speed Internet access to every county seat in the state, and then spread the connection to public facilities such as government buildings, schools and libraries.

NC Telecom's Rick Heming said Monday the interconnection between public buildings in Routt County is completed, but the county is still waiting for the high-speed Internet access, known as the multi-use network.

The multi-use network is a partnership between the state and Qwest to build a high-speed fiber-optic network across the state.

On Monday, Heming said, NC Telecom finished installing the circuit to connect Steamboat to the multi-use network and is now waiting for Qwest.

Heming, who is based out of the NC Telecom office in Meeker, also said all of Routt County's public buildings that want to tap into the high-speed Internet service are ready.

"It is like we have all the garden hoses connected," he said. "The water just has to be turned on."

NC Telecom, which was awarded the contract to connect Northwest Colorado to the multi-use network, has provided a web of connections that link Centennial Hall with the police department, sheriff's office, Steamboat Springs Airport, Mountain Fire Station, and Parks and Recreation and Public Works buildings.

NC Telecom shares office space with Qwest on Seventh Street and uses copper wires to interconnect the public buildings.

For the police department, fire station and sheriff's office, the connection provides a double redundancy, which serves as a back-up connection for their software systems, Heming said.

Although not connected to the multi-use network, these buildings can transmit information back and forth.

But many of the public buildings, schools, libraries and the county building, are waiting for access to the high-speed Internet services, not a connection to other public buildings.

Heming reported that Qwest has said the multi-use network should be brought to Steamboat within 60 days.

Almost three years ago, the state gave Northwest Colorado a $1.37 million grant to spend on start-up hardware and services.

Ellison said the county is budgeted to spend $882.82 a month for three years on Internet services and the city is budgeted to spend $1,610 a month.

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