Silverton plans to construct a loop of fiber-optic lines through the town, connecting many of its government agencies
to a single network that will be owned and operated by the town.
The plan is part of a major telecommunications upgrade as a result of grant money secured through the Region 9 Council
of Governments under Senate Bill 09-232.
The estimated cost of the fiber-optic project will be $121,042, of which the town of Silverton and San Juan County will
pay $30,260, or about $0.25 for every dollar spent.
Silverton Trustee Patrick Swonger said the town and the county are splitting the cost of this project 50-50.
We've already come up with our matching funds," Swonger said Thursday. We're delighted to be included in this
He estimates the town will save 50 percent or more on its telecommunications bill.
The savings will be the result of municipal agencies coming together to share one network connection and paying one
bill as opposed to the current patchwork of connections, with each agency paying its own way.
This joint network will result in a net increase of bandwidth for the municipality.
Silverton's town hall, library, courthouse, health clinic, Emergency Medical Service, school, county offices and annex
building, and health department will all be connected to the new network.
All of Silverton's cell-phone and Internet services are provided via a microwave radio relay connection, which in
itself is a matter of contention for many Silverton residents.
In 2000, the state awarded Denver-based Qwest a 10-year, $37 million contract to provide high-speed connectivity to
every county seat in Colorado, forming a statewide network known as the Multi-use Network, or MNT.
By 2003, every county and county seat in the state was connected to fiber-optic lines except San Juan County and
Instead of running fiber-optic lines all the way to Silverton, Qwest upgraded the town's existing microwave connection
to increase its bandwidth.
Swonger estimates that Silverton's microwave infrastructure was built sometime in the 1960s.
Dara Hessee, chief of staff at the Governor's Office of Information Technology, said Thursday that the state's contract
with Qwest did not require the use of fiber-optic lines.
Hessee said the goal of the contract was to increase network area and capacity without mandating the specific
We believe that Qwest has met its obligations under the contract," she said.
Monica Martinez, a public information officer for Qwest, agrees with Hessee's assessment.
The MNT called for 20Mbps bandwidth to each county seat," Martinez said Friday. Fiber was our intended solution, but
was not a requirement."
She said that, over the course of four years, Qwest ran into problems with private landowners securing easements to
construct the fiber-optic lines. Qwest's upgrade of the town's microwave technology was a solution that met the MNT
requirements and was agreed upon by the state.
Without a compelling business case," Qwest has no plan to connect Silverton to fiber-optic lines, Martinez said.
Operation Link Up, a grassroots coalition dedicated to the completion of the fiber-optic line to Silverton,disagrees.
For the people of Silverton, the matter is quite simple: the 2000 MNT Project is still one county short of being
finished," the organization's Web site says.
In a 2009 letter to the San Juan County board of county commissioners, Paul Sunderland, attorney for San Juan County,said Qwest's failure to run fiber-optic lines to Silverton represents a breach of its contract with the state.
Sunderland cites an April 1, 2003, change to the contract in which Qwest said it had not yet completed the fiber line
from Durango to Silverton, but that work on the line would continue with a tentative Ready for Service" date of June
Sunderland says, Qwest seems to have decided to ignore its contractual obligation and to rely instead on an inadequate
and undependable microwave link apparently in the hopes that the state will simply ignore its noncompliance with the
Colorado's MNT contract with Qwest is set to expire June 30.
firstname.lastname@example.org Patrick Young is an intern at
The Durango Herald.