Los Alamos County is commonly known as home to the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It may soon also be home to an incredible next-generation network owned by the community.
New Mexico’s Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI) received BTOP funding to construct a middle-mile fiber network connecting anchor institutions in Rio Arriba, northern Santa Fe, and Los Alamos Counties, along with the City of Espanola, and Pueblos of Ohkay Owingeh, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, and Tesuque. REDI is also working with local coops and with municipal utilities to bring the network across the northern part of the state.
Los Alamos County is expanding from the middle-mile network in anticipation of bringing fiber to every premise in Los Alamos county, about 8,900 homes and businesses. The design for the project is 90% complete and cost estimates are around $61 million.
While initial possibilities included cost projections for 100 Mbps and 300 Mbps connections, the County is pursuing 1 Gbps connectivity after early debate. From an April, 2011 article in the LAMonitor.com:
“These are immediate local uses for the infrastructure. But it’s also a long-term need,” [Tobey] Johnson, [managing partner of the Broadband Planning Group] said. “When you look at making this type of infrastructure investment in your community, it’s essential that the infrastructure’s going to be utilized for the next 30 years. So while there might be a handful of examples for uses today, how will it be used five years from now, 10 years from now? How will it be used locally in the community? How will it be used to connect the community to the outside world? A lot of those advances are still coming down the road, but we feel the best starting point for infrastructure is to look at gigabit speeds.”
The network will be open access with the hope of creating meaningful competition for consumers in Los Alamos County. At this point, no financing mechanism is in place and the surveys include questions on the public’s tolerance for debt on the project.
As the county begins to formulate a business plan, they are now conducting research directly with the public. According to the Los Alamos Daily Post:
As part of this survey, the County is interested in conducting market research to assess demand and interest in broadband services, as well as explore preferences regarding methods of financing the CBN project and willingness to pay for the various costs to install and operate the network.
The surveys will be conducted at Time Out Pizza in White Rock, the Mesa Public Library, The Coffee House and The Reel Deal Theater. The in-person surveys are in addition to the telephone surveys that were conducted in September. The survey should take less than 3 minutes to fill out.
The face-to-face surveys will supplement telephone surveys conducted in September. Project IT Manager, Estevan Gonzales, tells us the business plan may very well be completed by the end of the year.
For more details on this project, visit Los Alamos County’s Communuity Broadband Network page, where the County provides links to documentation from the beginning of the process.