Silver Star Communications Awarded Two Broadband Grants for Jackson Area
President Barack Obama announced today new government investments in 66 broadband projects in rural and impoverished areas across the country. Local communications and broadband provider, Silver Star Communications, received two awards from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program to complete fiber optic projects from Jackson through Moran and over Togwotee Pass and from Jackson to Victor over Teton Pass, significantly advancing the broadband capabilities in the region and improving the reliability of communications in the State of Wyoming.
Upon receiving news of the awards President and CEO of Silver Star Communications, Allen Hoopes, stated, “We are very excited to have received these two NTIA grants. The infrastructure associated with these grants will improve Wyoming’s broadband capabilities and enhance the broadband experience of residents and businesses in Teton and Lincoln County, Wyoming, as well as other Wyoming and Idaho communities. Silver Star is committed to providing advanced broadband and communications services to our customers, and as we look to the future and an even more information-driven age, these grants will prove integral to improving the lives of our customers.”
One of the primary criteria for award distribution was providing broadband services to key community entities, including but not limited to health clinics and hospitals, educational institutions, emergency services, local government agencies, and communications providers. Enabling crucial community anchors, such as St John’s Hospital, Teton County School District No. 1, the Jackson Fire Department, and Teton County’s EMS to connect with other hospitals, schools and emergency services throughout Wyoming is one of the greatest benefits of these projects. By improving the connectivity for these institutions they in turn can better serve the community.
Ron McCue, COO of Silver Star Communications expressed gratitude to Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal, Teton County Wyoming, Mayor Mark Barron and the Town of Jackson, and Superintendent Robert Vogel of Grand Teton National Park for their initial and ongoing support of these projects. McCue also expressed appreciation of the twenty-plus organizations that submitted letters of support on behalf of these projects. He went on to say that “these officials recognize the importance of bringing additional broadband capabilities to Jackson and Grand Teton National Park. As we embark on this project, we will reach out to several important community anchor institutions for which these projects will provide opportunities for greater connectivity. These projects will truly reshape broadband communications in our rural region.”
The Broadband Stimulus funds, provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will be used to close gaps in two important fiber optic networks, connecting Jackson to the rest of Wyoming, and Wyoming’s independent network to Idaho’s independent network.
The first project, over Togwotee Pass, places 89 miles of fiber to complete a 960 mile existing state-wide fiber network, connecting 11 counties and 26 municipalities. Creating this fiber loop will create broadband capabilities that are nonexistent today, while increasing the reliability of all communications (landline, cellular and broadband) to Wyoming’s residents, especially benefiting Jackson and the immediate surrounding areas. Having such a network in place will minimize service interruptions, such as the recent outage caused by a fiber cut in Evanston, which resulted in a loss of all communications services, including 911, in Western Wyoming.
The second project, over Teton Pass, closes a 33 mile gap in an existing 159 mile fiber optic network, bringing comprehensive broadband services to 5 counties and directly benefiting Silver Star’s customers. To receive one award was a huge step forward for broadband in Wyoming, but to receive the second award directly connecting Jackson to Teton Valley, Idaho, was a welcome surprise to company executives. The Teton Pass project will connect Wyoming’s independent network with Idaho’s independent network, providing seamless communications in East Idaho and Northwest Wyoming.
While both the Togwotee Pass and Teton Pass projects will benefit Jackson residents, the entire States of Wyoming and Idaho will also benefit from the connectivity with Jackson. These projects are slated to be completed within three years; however, planning, permitting, and environmental analyses are necessary before construction begins. Rocky, mountainous terrain provides for difficult construction and requires sensitivity as to how these projects impact the landscape they pass through. As a long standing corporate steward of the area, the company intends to do everything practical to minimize the impact of their projects on these environmentally-sensitive areas.