Here Comes High-Speed Internet!

The fiber optic cable being laid in Conejos Canyon. (photo credit: Gary Strieker)

Since I study at home, I depend on a good internet connection for nearly all of my school-related activities, from attending classes to submitting homework assignments. Here in the remote canyon where we live, our normal internet connection is VERY slow, so we signed up for a satellite connection that is much faster but often cuts out and we lose it completely when our electric power fails, making it difficult for me to focus on my studies.

Around a year ago, we were told that a high-speed fiber optic cable was going to be connected in our remote canyon, giving us up to 1 gigabyte of internet speed! I’m really excited about this, because it’s going to make so much difference for me in my studies!

I was curious about how this connection was going to happen, so I contacted the company responsible for the project, Jade Communications in Alamosa.

So far, Jade has dug trenches and laid more than 100 miles of fiber optic cable in the San Luis Valley. “We normally plow at between three and four feet,” says Josh Wehe, the director of operations at Jade. “Sometimes it has to be deeper, like if there’s a water line … then we have to go under it by two feet.”

Jade has been connecting communities all over the San Luis Valley and neighboring regions as part of a state program to give people high-speed internet throughout Colorado, including remote places like where I live. Because there is such a limited market with so few customers for internet connections in our area, projects like ours are only possible because of special funding from the state.

Getting the funding for this project was one of the biggest challenges that Jade had to overcome. “We waited around a year and a half to get a permit to do this project,” Wehe says, “So that was really frustrating.”

There are a lot of difficulties that the workers face while laying the cable, especially from the terrain where they’re working. They have to bore horizontally under roads, driveways and rivers. Underground boulders often block their path. “Getting [the cable] into the ground is 90% of the battle,” Wehe explains. “Once it’s in the ground, we move really quickly getting people lit up.”

Since I’ve learned about all the difficulties faced in laying the fiber optic cable, I’ll appreciate it even more when it finally reaches our home.