Last fall, Durango joined a number of other Colorado communities that voted to reclaim local telecommunications authority. This January, the city began using its fiber resources to partner with a private provider and offer free Wi-Fi along the downtown corridor.
The move is one step in the city's plan to optimize use of its fiber resources. At the moment, Wi-Fi appears to be the center point of that plan, with special attention focused on increasing competition so residents and businesses will benefit with lower prices and more choice. From a January article in the Durango Herald:
Some rural residents with slow Internet also should have more service options by the end of the year, courtesy of CenturyLink, SkyWerx, AlignTec and BrainStorm.
“A lot of people are working on it. ... In certain geographies we’re going to see overlapping solutions,” said Roger Zalneraitis, director of the La Plata County Economic Development Alliance.
Durango has leased dark fiber for over 20 years and operates its own I-Net for municipal and La Plate County facilities. The Southwest Colorado Council of Governments (SWCCOG) has been developing an open access regional fiber network since 2010, funded through local communities and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. The SWCCOG is now working with the Colorado Department of Transportation and the La Plata County Economic Development Alliance to determine if and where there are gaps in the fiber network.
Due to the expense of fiber optic lines, the difficult topography, and the remote locations of some La Plata county residents, community leaders are looking at microwave wireless as a way to deliver Internet access to a number of people.
Local video on the Wi-Fi install: