Drivers have likely noticed delays and construction crews this week on Florida Road. Although commuting on the well-traveled Durango road may take longer than usual, the wait might be worthwhile for residents in need of more reliable internet service.
Montrose-based broadband sister companies Clearnetworx and Deeply Digital started construction on a comprehensive fiber optic project to bring high-speed internet to in-demand neighborhoods in Durango, starting with Florida Road.
A news release from the city of Durango says construction started near the south end of Aspen Drive and will continue to Timberland Drive.
Casey Irving, business development director with Deeply Digital (the construction arm of Clearnetworx), said construction along Florida Road could be finished this winter if weather permits. The project would provide optional broadband internet access to about 1,900 homes.
Broadband installation in Durango will be carried out in phases. Irving declined to discuss other neighborhoods that would receiving broadband access, but added more information will be available as the Florida Road phase is completed.
Durango is not Clearnetworx’s first foray into Southwestern Colorado. In 2018-2019, a public-private partnership with the town of Bayfield marked its first expansion into the area. Since then, it’s entered into a similar agreement with the city of Cortez in “pretty much a full take over of the (city’s) network,” he said.
The company is also looking to expand into the Electra Lake area just south of Purgatory Resort, and it has an application pending for Forest Lakes.
Irving said Clearnetworx has been discussing broadband options for Durango and La Plata with city and county officials for a good amount of time to identify zones in need of higher internet speeds.
He said the need for internet or upgraded internet can vary widely within a single city. Region 9 Economic Development District is a strong advocate for broadband and has been helpful in understanding area internet needs.
“There's specific areas where maybe a cable plant is failing, or reliability is struggling because, you know, water has gotten into some copper feed or something like that,” he said. “So we're trying to focus on delivering service to the whole town while addressing maybe specific areas of need. And really that comes from the community.”
On Florida Road, Deeply Digital construction crews are focusing on underground construction to complete as much infrastructure as possible before the first snowfall, he said.
He said Clearnetworx offers a full spectrum of services, spanning the residential, small business and enterprise clients, including hospitals and schools.
He said services are offered on a per-month basis, so customers aren’t required to enter into lengthy contracts. Residential pricing starts at $49.95 for 300 megabytes per second and goes up to one gigabit per second for $69.96.
Clearnetworx will install a technology called XGS Pon, used by many fiber optic internet providers because it allows for higher internet speeds and the ability to switch to two or 10 gigabytes as needed without replacing infrastructure or in-home equipment, he said.
Prospective customers can pre-register for service at clearnetworx.com/durango.
“There's no commitment for signing up early or anything like that, or pre-registering for service, no contractual commitment,” Irving said. “We don't do hidden fees or price hikes. So we just try and keep the simple, simple billing rules or policies.”
He said the company is 100% locally operated, with customer support representatives, technicians and network engineers living and working on the Western Slope.