Rural counties deserve broadband investment | My opinion

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I am a native son of the Española Valley and your State Senator. What I want most is that the people of Rio Arriba County – my friends and neighbors – have the resources they need to thrive. I live in the same adobe house as my great-grandparents. Like many of you, I often struggle with a reliable internet connection. Like me, a large part of our community does not have good internet access.

In fact, according to the Department of Information Technology, over 60% of Rio Arriba County has inadequate Internet access, the highest rate of any county in the state. Now, due to the pandemic, with work and school taking place so online, it’s critical that we can connect when we need to, whether it’s for work or school or to socialize. That is why I want to share with you the unique opportunity for our community and rural areas in Rio Arriba County to have fiber optic broadband technology.

The US bailout commits billions of federal dollars to support rural broadband programs. This infusion of federal funds into rural broadband infrastructure means we now have the resources to include advanced broadband fiber.

According to the New Mexico State Broadband Strategic Plan and Rural Broadband Assessment, fiber optic broadband is the best technology to prepare our communities not only for our current Internet needs, but also to our future needs. Rio Arriba County deserves long-term, fast and reliable broadband that positions us to be competitive in the future, which means investing in fiber broadband where possible.

Broadband fiber literally operates at the speed of light, much faster than electricity or radio waves. This is vital as some estimates show that average household broadband needs could triple to 143/47 Mbps, with peak usage of 283/250 Mbps over the next decade.

Fiber broadband networks have a 30-year lower cost of ownership than other alternatives, are less expensive to maintain, and use the most reliable technology. Fiber to the house is dedicated bandwidth, so you don’t have to share a connection with your neighbors.

Fiber broadband is less susceptible to performance degradation due to usage, distance, or weather conditions. Fiber optic broadband means rural communities will have the reliable internet access we need for work, school and play.

Fiber broadband would promote economic development in rural areas of Rio Arriba County. Fiber optic networks improve the overall economic health of communities like ours, making them attractive destinations for individuals and businesses. In addition, fiber broadband benefits economic development efforts and community vitality by directly increasing the value of homes. It also benefits local businesses and commerce, providing small businesses with the means to increase their market share and increase their customer base.

Fiber optic broadband also allows people who want to work remotely to stay here in Rio Arriba County, close to family and friends, and the land they love.

Rural communities like Rio Arriba need a faster, more reliable Internet. An investment in high speed fiber will allow our students, professionals and families to benefit from speeds 40 times higher than the current standard.

As the former Rio Arriba County Commissioner, I contact the commission and encourage all of you to do the same. My request for the Rio Arriba County Commissioners is simple: As you envision broadband expansion in Rio Arriba County, please ensure that we include fiber optic broadband for today and for the to come up.

State Senator Leo Jaramillo represents District 5, covering parts of Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, and Santa Fe counties.


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