Tech+ Mail­bag: When Com­cast broad­band isn’t avail­able at your home, here are some op­tions

The Denver Post - - TECH KNOW - By Ta­mara Chuang The Den­ver Post See past Tech+ an­swers or ask your own tech ques­tion at dpo.st/mail­bag. If you’re e-mail­ing your ques­tion, please add “Mail­bag” to the sub­ject line.

Q: I’m a res­i­dent of Perry Park (Lark­spur area) and al­though Com­cast has ser­vice in some ar­eas out here, they don’t ser­vice my home. The only real choice I have is the “blaz­ing speed” of Cen­tu­ryLink — 1.5 mbps. Houses that are lit­er­ally just down the street from me have Com­cast ser­vice but Com­cast won’t come here and Cen­tu­ryLink ad­ver­tises high speed, but if you ask when they plan to up­grade their ser­vice, there’s no an­swer. Maybe you could get some kind of in­for­ma­tion that would give us a lit­tle hope? — Doug Du­vi­gneaud

Tech+: Af­ter some pok­ing around and with Doug’s in­put, here’s what we found. Com­cast built ca­ble lines from Den­ver to Colorado Springs and added con­nec­tions in Lark­spur so some area res­i­dents can or­der high-speed in­ter­net from Com­cast. But for those out of reach of that fat pipe, you’re mostly out of luck. Com­cast has no plans to ex­pand ser­vice there.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate that peo­ple want ac­cess to our high-speed in­ter­net ser­vice be­cause of the in­com­pa­ra­ble speeds and re­li­a­bil­ity we of­fer,” said Les­lie Oliver, a Com­cast spokes­woman.

But, she con­tin­ued, “Build­ing out broad­band in­fras­truc­ture re­quires sig­nif­i­cant cap­i­tal in­vest­ment to com­plete con­struc­tion and pro­vide ser­vice to in­di­vid­ual homes and busi­nesses, and it can be more costly to build out an in­fras­truc­ture net­work in less dense/more ru­ral ar­eas. A va­ri­ety of fac­tors im­pact where Com­cast is able to ex­tend its ser­vice in­clud­ing ne­go­ti­ated agree­ments with in­di­vid­ual com­mu­ni­ties, and fac­tors like struc­tural den­sity, dis­tance from main point con­nec­tions, ge­o­graph­i­cal ter­rain and bar­ri­ers, as well.”

How­ever, an op­tion where home­own­ers fund the con­struc­tion to con­nect in­ter­net to their homes is avail­able in some ar­eas.

Doug checked with Com­cast on the pos­si­bil­ity and was quoted a cost of “be­tween $30,000 and $100,000 to com­plete the work on our street,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to his cal­cu­la­tions, the $30,000 price seemed in the ball­park since there are 26 lots in his neigh­bor­hood “with 10 built and two un­der con­struc­tion,” he said. “We moved here from Vir­ginia, and our neigh­bor­hood there was able to get Com­cast to in­stall their ser­vices and it cost a lit­tle over $700/house­hold, so I think the es­ti­mate is ‘re­al­is­tic.’ ”

Af­ter some more re­search, Doug ended up pick­ing Direc­tLink, which of­fers broad­band in­ter­net ser­vice via a tech­nol­ogy called fixed­wire­less. Direc­tLink vis­ited Doug’s home to test speed vi­a­bil­ity and he signed up to get 15 mbps speeds for $69 a month. Deep in his con­tract, he shared that there is a 150 gi­ga­byte data cap.

There are a hand­ful of other in­ter­net ser­vice providers that spe­cial­ize in get­ting broad­band speeds to re­mote ar­eas. A great start­ing point is DSLRe­ports.com, which sorts telecom re­views based on ZIP code.

And there’s an­other source: your lo­cal gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and state leg­is­la­tors, said Ken Fell­man, who is Dou­glas County’s at­tor­ney and serves as out­side coun­sel for many Colorado com­mu­ni­ties. Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties can’t force ca­ble com­pa­nies to of­fer broad­band in­ter­net in ar­eas that are un­der­served and be­cause of state law SB 152, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties can’t build their own sys­tems.

How­ever in Colorado, vot­ers in nearly 100 cities, towns and coun­ties have opted out of SB 152 so they can ex­plore how to of­fer broad­band to res­i­dents. Most are still study­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties and so­lu­tions will vary, from Long­mont’s pub­licly-owned in­ter­net ser­vice to Cen­ten­nial’s part­ner­ship with a pri­vate com­pany to of­fer gi­ga­bit in­ter­net to res­i­dents.

“The rea­son this (opt­ing out of SB 152) is hap­pen­ing in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties and con­ser­va­tive com­mu­ni­ties is be­cause cit­i­zens are say­ing, ‘the pri­vate sec­tor is not ad­dress­ing our needs, please town coun­cil, help!’ ” Fell­man said. “Lo­cal peo­ple said we need our gov­ern­ment to get in­volved and help ad­dress this prob­lem or we’re go­ing to shrivel up and die.”

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