Lightning-fast internet on horizon for Sangre de Cristo Ranches

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COSTILLA COUNTY — Blanca Telecom is proposing to bring ultra-high speed broadband internet to about 100 households on the Sangre de Cristo Ranches (SDCR) subdivision in Costilla County.

According to Jordan Wehe with Blanca Telecom, the company already serves residents near this buildout of additional service, and the company has submitted the needed permitting documents with Costilla County.

Ben Doon, Chief Administrative Officer for Costilla County offered this update on the permitting process.

"Blanca Networks submitted a Special Use application to our Planning and Zoning Office last week to install fiber along Luke and Sonora roads in the Sangre de Cristo Ranches subdivision,” Doon said. “A Special Use Review requires a public hearing in front of the Planning Commission and a public hearing in front of the board of county commissioners. Our Land Use administrator is working to get the hearing in front of the Planning Commission at their June 14 meeting. It should then go in front of the county commissioners a couple of weeks after that."

Doon added that the commissioners will update residents on the permitting process at their June 6 meeting without any decisions being made.

Several residents have asked their commissioners to approve the permit request. In a letter to Commissioner Robert Espinoza, SDCR resident Nicole Langley wrote, "As you know, technology has changed quite a lot from the pre-web days of Blanca Telephone's canvas ‘bag phones’ and Yagi antennas. Today, while the rest of the world is moving into the 21st Century, our neighborhood, like so many other rural areas, has been left behind. Many of us are elderly or retired and, for medical and social reasons, we need quick and reliable ways to get in touch with the world. Economic times are hard, so some of us find ways to earn money by teaching, consulting, or selling online. And, for all of us, the opportunities for education, artistic expression, professional development, or remote work just don't exist, because we don't have access to high-speed internet. We need your help."

Espinoza told the Valley Courier he would research the issue and respond at a later date.

The fiber build will bring multi-gig service to the residents who work from home.

Business owner and SDCR resident, Steve Navratil told the Valley Courier, "Having access to reliable Internet connectivity is absolutely critical for my business, Colorado Digital Labs, Inc. As a technology development focused company, CDL designs, manufactures and programs custom electronic products for clients across the US and overseas. Everything from microprocessors, electronic components, specialty hardware and materials that go into what CDL builds must come from outside suppliers from around the world."

The process to bring new service to an area is a four-step process says Wehe. Step one is the design work where the company consults with local authorities for a custom plan. Step two is the construction and connection of fiber pathways. Step three is the splicing of fiber lines and underground vaults are connected. Step four is the installation and screws visit residences to get things up and running. Wehe said Blanca Networks is currently between steps one and two.

On tap for the residents are multi-gig internet, one gig and two gigs with the same upload and download speeds, which according to Wehe, are the fastest speeds available in Colorado.

If the permitting process goes smoothly, Wehe says construction is slated to begin late this summer, and full connectivity is to be available in the summer of 2024.