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Customers “Probably Don’t Need Higher (<1Mbps) Speed," Editorializes N.M. Newspaper

Sometimes you can’t please some people no matter what you do.

Kit Carson Electric Cooperative’s $64 million fiber-to-the-home expansion project will finally bring 21st century broadband speeds to northern New Mexico. The electric co-op intends to deliver broadband speeds up to 100Mbps to 20,000 largely rural residents and businesses in Taos, Colfax, and Rio Arriba counties who have had limited access to cable broadband or live with speeds often less than 1Mbps from CenturyLink-delivered DSL.

“It’s a whole new ballgame for rural New Mexico,” shares Stop the Cap! reader Raul. “But the pinheads at the local weekly newspaper are ringing their hands over the project, suggesting only businesses deserve 100Mbps while the rest of us should be satisfied with speeds under a megabit per second.”

Indeed, editors at the Sangre de Christo Chronicle are wringing their hands over the project:

But many of us in the Kit Carson service area already have Internet service — and we’re completely happy with it. Kit Carson CEO Luis Reyes, Jr. said a large portion of the organization’s electric customers are currently under-served by other providers with Internet speeds of less than one megabit (1,000 kilobits) per second.

We have no reason to doubt that, but many of these customers probably don’t need the higher speeds. For the Internet customers who use the Internet for email, Facebook, news and other basic functions, Kit Carson’s prices will be most important. Most of us will not pay more for faster Internet speed we don’t need, but we will consider switching to a local provider if it offers identical or better service and prices.

“CenturyLink barely delivers DSL today, and has shown no interest in investing substantially in northern New Mexico, and outside of concentrated built-up areas there is no cable competition,” Raul says. “Kit Carson is the only local concern that has shown any real interest in making our community better, and the local newspaper is complaining about it.”

Proposed service area for Kit Carson Electric's new fiber to the home network serving northern New Mexico.

Kit Carson Electric’s project will provide a true fiber-to-the-home service bundling television, telephone, and broadband service — a substantial upgrade over what the telephone company has on offer.  With speeds far beyond what cable and phone providers in New Mexico are accustomed to providing, the region stands to benefit from entrepreneurs building digital economy businesses over a broadband network that can actually help, not hinder online development.

Currently, area residents pay CenturyLink up to $55 a month for 1.5/1Mbps DSL service.  Residents are so excited by the prospects of much faster speeds at significantly lower prices, Kit Carson Electric has developed an innovative stop-gap service for residents still waiting for direct fiber connections — fiber-to-wireless service.  New and existing customers can sign up for the service for a $100 installation fee and choose from three service tiers:

  • 3Mbps — $29.95/month
  • 7Mbps — $39.95/month
  • 10Mbps — $49.95/month

A three year contract is required (early termination fee is $200).  But customers who eventually obtain Kit Carson Electric’s fiber service will automatically satisfy their contract requirement.

“Kit Carson’s wireless project already blows away CenturyLink’s speeds and pricing, and that is for inferior wireless,” Raul argues. “The Chronicle doesn’t have a clue.”

We can’t understand the newspaper’s concerns either.  Kit Carson Electric has already demonstrated their prices (and interest) in northern New Mexico is superior to that of CenturyLink, owner of former Baby Bell Qwest, which serves New Mexico.

Republican Sen. Jeff Bingaman is thrilled with Kit Carson’s broadband initiative.

“This major investment in broadband technology is exactly the kind of project I had envisioned when I voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman said. “This grant is not only creating jobs now in northern New Mexico, it is laying the groundwork to attract new businesses, improve healthcare services and create new education opportunities in the future.”

The electric co-op has been successful operating non-profit businesses selling propane, telecommunications, and economic development space.  The fiber project will also allow the electric utility to deploy “smart grid” technology to increase the efficiency of their electric service.

A groundbreaking ceremony at the broadband project’s command center held this past summer also coincided with a public emergency communications network upgrade which will increase the efficiency and reliability of first responders and other emergency and public safety agencies.

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  • Andy: They hiked the legacy ELP internet from 19.99 to 24.99 in november 2018. It used to be 14.99. The only reason these Charter spectrum effin ass holes a...
  • Frank D: Second Spectrum $20 price hike within a year. Signed up as $99/mo with time warner cable triple bundle. That became $130/mo after promo ended. Earli...
  • Dylan: Look at their prices. Absolutely ludicrous compared to many companies, especially Charter Spectrum. I pay $60 a month for 100/10 with unlimited data. ...
  • Paul Houle: For a long time communities have been frustrated in that they don't have any power to negotiate with cable companies. This town refused to enter into...
  • Ian S Littman: To be fair, you aren't wrong. Spectrum likely knows it won't have any competition for years in Lamar, so they'll quickly get take rates of >70% (re...
  • Ian S Littman: Are you in an area that can even get Spectrum service? Because in areas where they actually have to compete, they're actually pretty decent now. Yes,...
  • Ian S Littman: A more odd entry in that list is Chattanooga. The entire area has FTTH via EPB. Yet apparently folks can't swing the $57/mo starting price for 100 Mbp...
  • Ian S Littman: The issue here is that the NY PSC's threats have no teeth because, well, who will take over the cable systems if Spectrum is forced to sell? Either Al...
  • Bill Callahan: Phil, National Digital Inclusion Alliance just published interactive Census tract maps for the entire US based on the same ACS data. Two datapoints a...
  • Carl Moore: The idiots that run the cable companies must be also using drugs...a lot of people are cutting their cable services because of the higher rate and inc...
  • EJ: This will require a New Deal approach. Municipals need the ability to either be granted money or loaned money for broadband expansion. Until this is d...
  • Bob: I also got $1 increase for my 100/10 internet from Spectrum. A rep said it's for the speed increase that's coming in 2019. I complained that I was pro...

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