As school prepares to start back and more individuals choose to or are required to work from home, Internet access has become a hot topic everywhere. In rural areas like Trinidad with tricky topography in certain areas, some have expressed concern with being able to access providers.
Beginning the regular work session for the Trinidad City Council, IT Director James Worley discussed that throughout town, fortunately individuals had access to Internet through a variety of options.
“In terms of broadband, the FCC defines broadband as high speed Internet with a minimum download speed of 25 megabits per second and minimum upload speed of three megabits per second,” said Worley. “So with that being said, there’s currently four companies, Comcast Internet, Secom Internet, and Century Link DSL, that are all offering high speed internet. We also have satellite Internet available through HughesNet.”
Councilmember Rusty Goodall added he’d like to see the Wi-Fi project on Main Street come to completion as soon as possible to be ready for tourists next year and help locals now.
“I think it’s becoming more vital with us heading into the amount of tourism we’re likely to see with the Peak and everything else that comes up,” said Goodall. “This is something we need to get wrapped up and available for next year’s tourism season.”
Worley said that the next step was for Secom to put their equipment on top of buildings where they have existing fiber serving downtown.
“They said using street poles probably wouldn’t be ideal just because of the location of existing fiber optic lines,” said Worley. “They said that they’ll send somebody out to do another site survey and talking to the business owners and we can get this project moving forward here pretty quick.”
City Economic Coordinator Wally Wallace said that they had signed a contract with Secom giving them permission to set up antennas or towers on top of Simpson’s Rest and a few other points around town.
“[Wi-Fi] is what we’re getting in exchange for that,” said Wallace. “I believe Secom is the most reliable Internet access in town.”
Worley explained further that Secom would be installing wireless access points along Main Street and Commercial as well as providing publicly accessible internet access to whoever wants to connect to that system.
“The agreement with Secom is since we’re trading access to city property for their communications equipment, we get Wi-Fi installed at no cost to the city,” said Worley.
With questions about the reliability of the company, Worley said with any Internet provider, reliability was a hit or miss.
“Mother Nature plays a huge part in that and people play a huge part in that,” said Worley. “There was an incident just a few years ago where somebody cut fiber north of Walsenburg and it actually shut down from Walsenburg all the way down into Wagon Mound, New Mexico. This entire section of the two states was completely without Internet or cell phone service. So when you get somebody who makes a mistake somewhere, it’s just things you have to expect. There will be down time as no service is 100 percent reliable.”
In terms of speeds for the downtown Wi-Fi, Worley said as of yet he was unsure as to what Secom would be providing in terms of speeds but they would cover that at their next meeting.
Councilmember Aaron Williamson asked what would happened if people who are regularly downtown attempt to use the open network as their primary ISP, limiting what would be available for people visiting outside of that space.
“That’s something that Secom will have to handle,” said Worley. “With a publicly accessible Wi-Fi, there’s no way to prevent somebody from just tapping into it and using it for their everyday service. Space to Create is a prime example. In terms of capacity, it all depends on the type of hardware that Secom installs as to how many wireless simultaneous connections can take place.”
Goodall added that there were certain programs out there that could limit a users bandwidth to discourage or block large downloads and help to keep basic usage fair.
Mayor Phil Rico said there were a lot of possibilities with the potential downtown Wi-Fi but also some possible issues that would need to be ironed out.
“One thing that we don’t want to do is have them install a run-of-the-mill product and then we start falling short,” said Rico. “Then they’ve got to come back in and there’s no indication whether there’s going to be an added cost to that or not, so it’s better to approach that up front than on the back end.”
With the project continuing forward in the coming weeks, the Mayor said he hopes it will attract new businesses to the community.
“People want to be able to work from the Space to Create project and to be able to access Wi-Fi is really important,” said Rico.
Worley said there are still a good bit of things to get in place but he hopes to see it really come about come September.
“I would expect to see somebody from Secom down here probably this week to start doing another walkthrough,” said Worley.