Eastern Slope Rural Telephone Association (ESTech) announced on Friday that they will be bringing High Speed Internet to the Town of Eads with installation projected to begin in the Fall of 2021. ES Tech already has an Internet infrastructure in the community but has now committed to installing fiber optics and electronics to enhance the availability of faster and more powerful Internet capabilities that represents limitless opportunities to esrta.com subscribers.
The pandemic revealed to businesses and consumers, alike, new ways to work, to shop and to communicate with each other in numerous digital settings. In order to do all this new work, communities with powerful High Speed Internet will have a definite leg up --- a distinct advantage --- over communities lacking these capabilities.
Particularly it is imperative that rural communities, given their unique geographical locations to the markets they need to enter, will have an absolute necessity to access high speed Internet if they have any chance of keeping up with their competition.
Patricia White, CEO at Eastern Slope provided more information to the Independent about this project that represents a real shot in the arm for the community’s economic development capabilities. The entire Town of Eads, including places like the Kiowa Estates development south of town, and other locations further out will soon have the opportunity to access High Speed Internet service. White said, “Generally, the new fiber will be placed within the city limits of Eads. However, there are a quite a few locations within the County that will benefit from the new upgrade. Exact buried fiber optic cable placement will be determined following the engineering phase of the project.”
When the work begins this fall ES Tech will bring in 10-15 workers who will be working on the large infrastructure project to bury duct and or fiber optic cables along the alleys. In addition, they will have to mount the necessary ONT electronic equipment to the exterior of residents or business buildings.
White further clarified how the new service will work for current subscribers and those who are not subscribers but who are interested in obtaining High Speed Internet, “We will place the mainline fiber and drops to homes/businesses that have completed the fiber agreement and have signed up for service. There will be no additional charges for this upgrade to fiber optics unless the customer chooses to add new services to the account. However, if a property owner chooses to not subscribe at this time to Eastern Slope services and/or does not allow Eastern Slope to construct fiber optics to the home or business, there may be additional monthly fees, construction fees, or termination of the service associated with that decision in the future.”
White goes on to say, “To be on the safe side, if a resident/business wants the fiber, they should complete the agreement and sign up for service to ensure a timely installation. It should also be noted that the current copper cable will be abandoned, so existing customers will need the fiber to continue service, even if they only subscribe to landline phone.”
There will be no cost for installation and no additional charges for current subscribers to upgrade to fiber optics unless you choose to add new services to your account.
The Fiber to the Home Agreement White refers to was included in a mailing to current and potential customers. If you are interested and did not receive the Fiber to the Home Agreement, please contact ES Tech/Eastern Slope at 719-743-2441 or 1-888-999-3778.
The prices for the new High Speed Internet service are included in the mailing sent to the community. It can also be accessed on their website at www.esrta.com. An array of subscription packages is available, but this new fiber installation will allow a gigabit capable network that should satisfy even the most robust professional remote user. For instance, many remote workers need a higher upload speed, so the 50 Mbps download/25 Mbps upload base price of $99.99 will be a good starting point for those professionals who need it all.
This fiber installation project is being funded completely by Eastern Slope. White says, “Eastern Slope is a cooperative. Therefore, we are using patronage capital and Universal Service Funding through the Alternative Connect America Fund to fully fund the project. No loans will be needed to complete this project which is estimated to cost $1.8 million.”
The the Eads City Council have been informed about the upcoming project and are pleased the community will be provided with this economic development tool. White presented the project to the Town Council on March 9, 2021. They were told that beyond overseeing the work in the public right of way, the Town will not have a role in the project since all facilities will be the property of the Cooperative. In addition, the local governments were informed that a fiber broadband capital project of this magnitude will increase the tax base which results in increased tax revenues for the town and school. Economic development potential will be the biggest benefit for the town, since a redundant, reliable fiber network is attractive to both remote workers, as well as businesses wanting to relocate to rural areas.
There are numerous ways in which broadband such as being provided in this upcoming project improves rural communities, in general. A study by the Hudson Institute entitled, “The Economic Impact of Rural Broadband,” completed prior to the pandemic, broke down the details on how vital broadband is to rural America.
For instance, broadband can bring local businesses to global markets. Websites such as Ebay, Etsy, Pinterest and Facebook are ways that crafters, creators, junkers or anyone who has something to sell can conduct business. They say time is money and fast Internet is key to getting those sales.
Broadband can also enhance educational opportunities for people living in rural areas. Gone are the days that a student has to be present on the campus of a major university. Online courses have grown exponentially during the pandemic and are now considered one of the best ways to obtain a given degree. It saves the rural student room and board, gas to come and go to the campus, and a huge amount of time. Homeschooling is yet another avenue to using broadband for education.
During the pandemic many citizens figured out they could use telemedicine to “visit” the doctor’s office or a specialist located in some hospital miles away. In addition, rural clinics and hospitals can quickly and securely connect to larger, urban medical centers with specialists and advanced equipment.
Broadband allows consumers to save money on trips to the mall or store. It can also allow promo codes, online rewards, flash sales and free shipping programs to be readily available. However, perhaps the biggest deficit identified in rural business models is their lack of a web presence. Broadband in the community means their small businesses can also conduct e-business through websites keeping their local customers happy and reaching a broader market as well.
High Speed Internet could bring big business to a small community. It’s like prime real estate. If broadband is available in a rural community this becomes prime real estate for larger businesses who can now conduct business from afar. It means more jobs for the community and may bring more workers to live in the community.
Broadband can be a life saver for families who are desperately trying to stay connected. Grandparents can now easily keep up with their families who live anywhere in the world through High Speed Internet. It can truly change the way families communicate in ways that will hopefully bring them closer. During the pandemic it would have been wonderful for our elderly population to be able to easily access broadband in order to stay in daily contact with their loved ones.
Broadband could serve to help keep the youth in the communities. It can create economic options for work, education and social contacts. One of the major issues in rural communities is called “brain drain” whereby the youth leave as the population ages. Having High Speed Internet available to the youth may be one way they can live cheaply at home while developing their careers.
Finally, broadband is needed for really good paying remote jobs. The sky is the limit for remote workers who work for tech companies from across the world. There are any number of opportunities available for good paying jobs when you have the right skills. With access to broadband workers can learn coding and other technological skills gaining access and job opportunities in the high paying tech world while living in rural communities.
Broadband is one of those 21st Century infrastructure must haves. For ESTech to bring broadband to Eads and surrounding areas is a big deal for the future of our community. Make sure, if you are interested in learning more about bringing High Speed Internet into your workplace or home, you contact this local cooperative and take the first step into the 21st Century.