Local electric company considers becoming area internet service provider
May 19, 2017
Local energy company Mountain Parks Electric is considering becoming Grand County's newest internet service provider, a response to the internet quality gap throughout the area.
According to a recent feasibility study ran by Uptown Services in Boulder, 40 percent of Mountain Parks Electric's members are seeking better broadband service. The energy company, with headquarters in Granby, currently provides energy to over 20,000 people in Grand County and other communities.
For years members have complained about the speed and quality of internet service throughout rural Colorado, an issue that affects both quality of life and economic development.
"Everybody has become dependent on the internet and what it offers," Tim Sifers, general manager at Mountain Parks Electric, told Sky-Hi News on Friday. "Students need it for homework, and people aren't able to conduct their businesses properly with the current speeds."
The lack of quality service has become a major issue for the economic development of Grand County, as well, according to Sifers, since the absence of high speed broadband is a prohibitive factor for new businesses looking to locate in the county.
The company's board of directors have not yet decided whether it will jump into the internet service provider business, though it has issued a request for proposals regarding engineering services to design a backbone infrastructure for a fiber-optic communication network system. Estimates for that have come in around $3.7 million, though Sifers said the estimate may be inflated based on early designs of the network.
The study conducted by Uptown Services estimated that about 8,000 of Mountain Parks Electric's members would utilize and benefit from a new internet service provider, should it decide to move forward with the project. Mountain Parks will reevaluate the necessity for a new provider once the backbone infrastructure for the fiber-optic network is complete.
"In the meantime, the board of directors continues to investigate MPE's potential role in helping close the gap in internet service throughout its service territory," Mountain Parks Electric stated in a press release. "Whether that means simply building a broadband backbone and working with existing area ISPs or offering last-mile service."