Getting and staying connected in this ‘work remotely’ world, By Loren Howard
In 2012, San Luis Valley Rural Electric began to investigate the possibility of starting a telecommunications subsidiary to bring the much needed connectivity to the SLV. A comprehensive feasibility study was completed in 2012 and follow-up evaluations were conducted in early 2013. Then later in 2013, a pilot installation of fiber to the premise at 20 homes in the Plaza area was completed to further study the practicality of building a fiber to the premise system to deliver the telecommunications services of Internet access and phone service.
This was the start of Ciello. Over the next two years, fiber was installed first in South Fork and the surrounding areas. Then, the challenge of stringing fiber up to Creede was taken on by the REC line crew. To get there, the fiber had to cross the Rio Grande river 13 times with the longest span almost 1,000 feet. With incredible ingenuity, REC linemen completed this rather daunting task and the buildout of fiber in the Creede community began.
Thus, started REC’s venture into the world of telecommunications. Over the next few years, the communities of Del Norte, Monte Vista, Center, Moffat, La Jara and Saguache were built out with fiber to the premise, bringing truly world class telecommunication services to the Valley.
Today, Ciello has over 5,000 subscribers to its services and work continues to bring a quality experience to all subscribers. If you are connected via fiber, speeds up to 1,000 Mbps are available. Wireless subscribers can usually get at least 50 Mbps and in some instances, 100 Mbps. Ciello deployed wireless to bring connectivity more quickly to meet the demand for better Internet access as the most frequent comment/complaint has been “Why can’t I be connected now?” Wireless is easier on the front end to deploy but is far more problematic to keep functioning well. There are just too many factors that impact wireless connectivity such as interference from other radio sources and weather which moves antennas out of alignment or causes atmospheric interference. Ultimately, Ciello will be a fiber to the premise system except for a few extraordinary situations.
As the Ciello network has grown, there have been a few growing pains with the need to constantly upgrade network equipment capacity and connectivity to the outside world. Currently, Ciello has four connections including one geographically diverse route to a major hub in Denver. In 2021, a connection to Albuquerque should be in place as well. While continuing to improve the reliability of the Ciello network in the Valley is crucial, it is also vital to improve the reliability and robustness of the connections to the hubs (points of presence – POP) connecting Ciello to the world.
Ciello is here to stay and is committed to bring residents of the San Luis Valley reliable, high speed connectivity to the Internet and phone service in this time when staying at home, working remotely or attending class via video teleconference has become the norm.