Teton Broadband Project eNewsletter
Construction on the Teton Broadband Project is complete – now what?
What does the Teton Broadband Project mean for Wyoming and Jackson?
The route of the Teton Broadband Project’s 120 miles of fiber optic cable was designed to close the Wyoming “survivability ring” and connect the Wyoming fiber loop to the Idaho loop. As a result, communications in the valley, and the state as a whole, will be made more reliable. You can think of fiber as a kind of national interstate system for digital traffic. The fact that Jackson is now better connected has all kinds of economic and quality of life benefits.
Who benefits from the fiber project in Jackson?
The Teton Broadband Project received funding from the National Telecommunications and Information Agency’s (NTIA) Broadband Technology and Opportunities Program (BTOP). This program supports middle mile projects that help feed the fiber to the Internet, mobile phone and other communication networks that reach consumers. Silver Star has connected Jackson to other population centers via fiber. The intention was never for Silver Star to be a last mile fiber provider connecting every home and business. However, this doesn’t mean that just those along the fiber benefit. The whole community benefits from more reliable communications in and out of the valley. In addition, fiber enhances the services of critical community institutions such as the hospital, emergency services, local government, schools etc.
When will I get fiber to my home?
Most Jackson neighborhoods already have at least two other internet service “last mile” providers. Thanks to the Teton Broadband Project these providers now have access to more bandwidth and can therefore offer more to their customers. For this reason, coupled with the high cost of fiber construction, it doesn’t make sense for Silver Star to extend fiber out to isolated individual homes. That being said, we are happy to service anyone who at their own expense wants to connect to the fiber - obviously the closer they are to fiber the less expensive it will be. For example, it may make sense for groups of houses and developments to invest in connecting to the fiber.
Unlike a utility like electricity or telephone service, for which government historically subsidized one provider to ensure every home had a connection, Internet service is a competitive service that has to be sold with an eye to a return on investment. There are costs to sustaining and maintaining the infrastructure which have to be paid by user fees. While fiber would provide the greatest capacity to residences, at this point many residential Internet needs can be met by wireless or DSL service. Fiber is especially attractive for businesses needing higher capacity services. For new residential and business developments, multiple communications needs can be met by an up-front investment in fiber.
How does fiber figure in to residential and business location decisions?
In the future we expect the location of the fiber to be a compelling consideration in the real estate market – it is an asset to be weighed in any business or residential location decision, just like proximity to schools, main roads, and trails and pathways.
My business could really benefit from fiber - what can I do?
Silver Star has heard from many eager entrepreneurs whose businesses could benefit from a fiber connection. The closer these businesses can locate to the fiber, the more feasible a connection. In addition, the more businesses that can share the expense of connecting to the fiber, the more cost–effective it will be. Silver Star is willing to cost-share the cost of connecting businesses as long as there is a commitment to a threshold level of service. We have already had discussions with groups of tech-oriented businesses and we hope that further discussions can result in one or more fiber fed office buildings or tech hubs.
After a very busy construction season, work is complete on the Teton Pass portion of the Teton Broadband Project. Work continues on the Togwotee portion of the project but we are down to installing one section of fiber in Moose and a few other pieces of equipment in Kelly. Construction for the whole project should be completed by the end of this year.
We recently activated service for the Cody Clinic at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, which is affiliated with St. John’s Hospital – now the hospital has a fiber connection with all of its outlying clinics. Five Teton County buildings were recently connected with a line that allows them to communicate with the speed and security as if they were all at one location. Other Community Anchor Institutions to benefit include the Teton Science School, Town of Jackson and the Jackson Hole Airport.
While there are no immediate plans to systematically extend fiber beyond the existing route, Silver Star is working to hook up residents and businesses adjacent to the fiber and with groups that can pool the costs of an extension. We are happy to work with anyone interested in what the Teton Broadband Project can do for enhancing their communications. Call us at 307-734-9040.
Project construction is nearing completion on Teton Pass. Silver Star crews continue to work on the Togwotee Pass component of project. The final step will be to install the facilities that provide the end connection to customers along the whole fiber route.
Old Pass Road Repair Celebration On August 15th, Silver Star took part in a community celebration of the completion of the Old Pass Road Repair Project. The historic Old Pass Road was established almost century ago and is now a popular recreational pathway with hikers and cyclists. Silver Star got involved in the effort to repair the historic roadway because it was the route for the fiber over Teton Pass. Silver Star worked in collaboration with Friends of Pathways, the USFS and Jim Verdone of the Old Pass Road Repair Project for over a year to ensure that our rehabilitation efforts complemented and could be leveraged by the other efforts to improve the roadway.In total Silver Star has committed close to $70,000 for asphalt repairs, landscape reseeding and rehabilitation, and drainage improvements.
Once the major construction is completed, businesses and residences along the fiber line can take advantage of the most cutting-edge technology available for high-speed, reliable broadband. We are already providing service to key community institutions such as St. John’s Medical Center, the airport, the Town of Jackson and Teton Science Schools.
The route of the 120 miles of fiber installed through project was chosen to provide access in the downtown business district as well as complete the Wyoming “survivability loop”. The loop basically ensures that even if fiber is severed, data can be re-routed in the other direction along the loop to still reach its destination. This is key to having redundancy in critical systems, such as state’s 911 system, which has been down three times in the last two years in the eastern part of the state. Without a redundant loop, data can hit a “dead-end” in the event of damage to the fiber.
Silver Star does not plan on systematically extending fiber off of the existing fiber route but is happy to talk to any businesses, subdivisions or residents interested in connecting to fiber to evaluate the cost and feasibility. Interested parties can contact our Jackson Business Account Consultants:
Drew Izatt Liz Acosta
At the end of June two representatives from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) visited the Teton Broadband Project for a progress update and to see the work on the ground. The representatives had the chance to meet with local officials and community leaders to discuss broadband needs in Teton County, Wyoming and to ask questions surrounding the broadband projects.
NTIA is administering the BTOP (Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program) grant which Silver Star was awarded for both the Togwotee Pass Fiber Project and Teton Pass Fiber Project. Below is a progress report on both projects, collectively referred to as the Teton Broadband Project.
Teton Pass Project
The Teton Pass Project will be completed by the end of this month and rehabilitation work has started on Old Pass Road, which was the route for fiber going over the pass. Silver Star has been working in collaboration with Friends of Pathways and the USFS for over a year to ensure that our rehabilitation efforts complement and can be leveraged by the other efforts to improve the roadway.
Silver Star Communications became a partner in the Old Pass Road Repair Project, a community effort to maintain and repair the historic Old Pass Road over Teton Pass, which is now a popular recreational pathway with hikers and cyclists. In total Silver Star will have committed close to $70,000 for asphalt repairs, landscape reseeding and rehabilitation, and drainage improvements when the project is complete. The Old Pass Road Repair Project is still seeking an additional $5,000 in donations in order to complete the repair work to the pathway. Find out more about this community endeavor and how you can be involved, including making an online donation. With work underway as of last week, be sure to come back here soon to see before and after pictures of the repairs.
Togwotee Pass Project
On Togwotee Pass the conduit has been placed and Silver Star has installed fiber in all but 6 miles of the route, though this is expected to be completed next week. The Teton Science School and the town of Kelly will be connected to the fiber network this month. These institutions previously did not availability to a high-speed broadband network. The routes to Teton Science School and the town of Kelly were added to the original broadband plans and Silver Star is pleased that the NTIA approved these additions that will benefit Teton County and the quality of technology services available.
With funds left in the project budget, Silver Star has been able to increase the number Community Anchor Institutions (schools, emergency and medical services, and other critical community institutions as identified by the grant) served and to run fiber to additional offices or buildings of the originally-identified Community Anchor Institutions. In total, the Broadband Project has been extended by 24 miles of fiber: in town, to Kelly, and a local ring between Jackson, Moose, Teton Village, and Wilson. Even with the additions to the project, Silver Star will be completing both portions on schedule.
Background: The Teton Broadband Project began in April 2011 and is being co-funded by Silver Star and two grants received from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The program allowed Silver Star the opportunity to enhance the network in Jackson and to provide fiber connections to community anchor organizations, among other institutions, in Jackson. Ultimately, the project improves broadband connectivity — adding capacity and reliability to local services for the entire community. The ability to sell fiber-fed internet service to most residences in Jackson is still a couple of years away. Businesses interested in finding out about services should contact one of our Business Sales Consultants.
Silver Star Communications has resumed construction for the Teton Broadband Project. Construction crews will be working in the Town of Jackson, on Teton Pass and on the Old Pass Road. The construction should not cause road closures and impact to local traffic will be kept at a minimum.
The Teton Pass portion of the project is close to completion with rehabilitation work remaining. In addition to Silver Star’s repair project on the Old Pass Road, local resident and avid cyclist Jim Verdone sees an opportunity to further enhance this pathway known for its high number of recreational users. Mr. Verdone has a vision for more comprehensive repairs and is actively seeking donations through the Wilson-based 501-c3 nonprofit organization, Institute For Global Awareness.
Seeing another avenue to highlight the historic importance of the Old Pass Road, Silver Star, Friends of Pathways, Bridger-Teton National Forest, and the Jackson Hole Historical Society are working to bring technology and history together to tell the story of the road for both visitors and locals to enjoy. This joint project will result in a smartphone application guiding users through the key historical markers on the Old Pass Road. The application is currently under development at Silver Star.
The Togwotee Pass portion will continue through the summer and the awarded contractors will start plowing in the fiber network as the snow melts. With help from local and government agencies Silver Star will continue to strive to make the most practical construction route decisions that are both sensitive to the environment and convenient for residents and visitors.
The Teton Broadband Project began in April 2011 and is being co-funded by Silver Star and two grants received from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The program allowed Silver Star the opportunity to enhance the network in Jackson and to provide fiber connections to Community Anchor organizations among other institutions in Jackson, ultimately improving broadband connectivity — adding capacity and reliability to local services for the entire community.
Silver Star Communications is a privately-owned telecommunications company with locations in Jackson, Afton, Thayne, Soda Springs, and Driggs. Silver Star has been working to provide greater Broadband access to the Jackson community for many years.
Silver Star is anxiously awaiting the spring thaw so we may resume the Teton Broadband Project. This project involves installing fiber-optic cable over Teton Pass and Togwotee Pass with the intention of significantly enhancing broadband service in Jackson, Wyoming. This project was made possible because of the NTIA’s (National Telecommunications Information Administration) economic recovery program.
Although construction was not possible during the winter months, the engineering and sales teams were coordinating with several Community Anchor Institutes to design networks and connect their organizations to the fiber. Several of the key projects underway include The Center for the Arts, St. Johns Hospital and Urgent Care, and the Home and Ranch Building. Increasing broadband capacity to the community anchors, ultimately benefits the entire community.
Significant progress has been made in this project with fiber connections established and live between Rafter J subdivision and Victor, ID and Rafter J and Teton Village, WY. These connections will allow key organizations to connect in the coming months. Silver Star has also completed a SONET (Synchronous Optical Networking) ring, creating redundancy of the network and preventing communication outages. The completion of this ring serves as the first true fiber diverse ring between Jackson – Victor – Swan Valley – Star Valley. This huge network advancement provides long-term benefits to all communities. The map below displays the fiber and fiber-ready paths (conduit) that have been placed. Orange indicates where fiber has been placed and green shows fiber-ready paths to be completed this summer.
Silver Star’s work on this project will provide broadband benefits to all members of Jackson regardless of service provider. Updates on the project, future plans for services, and success stories will be shared as progress is made.
With the winter weather and frozen ground, the Teton Broadband Project has slowed. The contractors hired to lay the fiber lines completed a significant portion of the project, with over 80 of the total 110 miles of fiber optic lines placed. Due to long hours put in by Silver Star’s staff and contractors, several Jackson Community Anchors and businesses will begin reaping the benefits of the grant project in early 2012.
What does this mean for Jackson residents? The goal of this project is to increase broadband capacity and reliability in Jackson. Because funding was received as a part of NTIA’s (National Telecommunications Information Administration) economic recovery program, we must first focus on providing services to community anchor institutions (emergency services, educational establishments, etc.). In the meantime, we are working with businesses directly along the fiber route in need of broadband circuits. Our long term plans for Internet or other communications services are in the strategic planning phase, but we ultimately hope to provide additional services to the Jackson community. Regardless of your communications provider, the overall broadband capacity the reliability in Jackson will improve because of this project. The additional fiber routes out of Teton Valley provided by the broadband project will provide redundancy in the event of a fiber cut. Stay tuned for more news as we bring organizations online in 2012.
By now most of you have probably seen the various construction crews around town and on HWY 22 laying conduit which will later house our fiber optic cables, connecting to Silver Star’s fiber optic networks and beyond. The actual construction project has progressed smoothly and we expect to finish the Teton Pass portion of the project early this fall, with the potential to have services turned on to our first customers before the end of the year. Our focus has been to bring this cutting edge connection to the Teton County communities, while being mindful of our impact. Our ability to bore underground and to utilize “micro trenching” have meant less disturbance to traffic and “leave as we find it” environmental sensitivity. We expect to complete phase one of the project this year, and phase two over Togwatee Pass next year. We appreciate your patience, and your excitement. -Rob Heiner | Project Manager
Benefits of Broadband: eHealth
From speeding patient diagnoses and reducing medication errors to controlling skyrocketing medical costs and advancing patient care, broadband-enabled health care represents the next great frontier for American medicine.
- The Rand Corporation estimates that using health IT to create a more efficient health system can save the average American family 25% of their annual out-of-pocket healthcare expenses, about $670 per year.
- Remote patient monitoring could save $197 billion in health care costs over 25 years.
- 82% of doctors who use electronic records say they improve the quality of clinical decisions, 86% say they help in avoiding medication errors and 85% say they improve the delivery of preventative care.
- 30% of all hospital, out-patient and drug expenses could be saved from remote monitoring for the chronically ill.
- 50% of patients with chronic disease do not take their medication as prescribed-impeding their quality of life and inviting costly complications. Broadband can help by providing real-time reminders to patients to help them reap the full benefits of their care regimens.
- 61% of American adults go online to access health information and 42% say they or someone they know has been helped by health information found online.
Click here to view the full article from US Telecom.
The Big Question
We expect local “Community Anchor Institutes” in Jackson to be connected to the broadband technology, first, as outlined in the NTIA grant. Because this is an effort to create connections to larger networks, bringing bigger economic development opportunities to the state and region, the project serves the anchors – hospitals, schools, Town and County administration, etc. – first. We have heard from many of you that you are interested in knowing what this means to you at home, and we can’t wait to serve you. Once we have completed the project in 2012 and met our obligations, we will happily focus on how we can offer additional services to the community members of Jackson and the surrounding area.
Silver Star Communications Begins the Placing of Fiber-Optic Cable
April 27, 2011
The Teton Broadband Project has kicked off in its construction of a new fiber-optic cable, slated to significantly enhance broadband service in Jackson, Wyoming, adding speed, capacity and reliability to local services. Silver Star Communications received two grants to expand the broadband infrastructure for Internet access from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). The first phase of The Teton Broadband Project, consisting of the two awarded grants over Togwotee and Teton Passes, presents the opportunity to provide fiber connections to emergency services, Town and County facilities, hospitals, libraries, schools, and other “community anchor” organizations.
“This once in a lifetime opportunity to connect Jackson to the rest of Wyoming’s fiber optic network will increase the capacity, reliability and speed with which we communicate,” said Ron McCue, COO of Silver Star Communications. McCue added, “Jackson is the missing link, literally, to creating a redundant fiber ring throughout the state, and we’ve been searching for viable ways to close this gap in the fiber network for many years.”
Two contractors were selected and finalized just last week. The Togwotee Pass part of the Project was awarded to Track Utilities (Meridian, Idaho) and began last week, and the contractor chosen for the Teton Pass project, Tetra Tech (Denver, Colorado), plans to begin construction this week. They will continue the connection from Jackson to Wilson and over Teton Pass. These larger contractor firms will likely hire local contractors for sub-contract work, creating more opportunities for local jobs.
Construction is now underway in East Jackson and will continue through the spring and summer, with very limited impact on local traffic. Silver Star has consulted with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Teton County, the Town of Jackson and others to create the most convenient, practical and environmentally sensitive construction route and method. Construction for the “core area” in town will cease for the June-September tourist season, and actual construction activities for a given area will last only a matter of a few days. The Teton Broadband Project is anticipated to be completed by October 2012 or before.
Bids Being Accepted for Remodel Project in Jackson
April 13, 2011
Sealed proposals for the construction, including the supply of necessary Labor, materials, and equipment, of a building remodel as described below:
Project Number: NT10BIX5570078, Expanding Greater Yellowstone Area Broadband Opportunities (Jackson Remodel), Company Name: Silver Star Communications; Exchange: Jackson, Wyoming; County: Teton; State: Wyoming; shall be received at the following location and time: Address: Silver Star Communications, PO Box 226,104101 US Hwy 89, Freedom, WY 83120; Bid Date: May 10, 2011; Time: 2:00 P.M., MST, at which time the proposals shall be publicly opened and read. The project shall consist of a remodel of an existing building at 435 E Kelly Ave in Jackson into a telecommunications central office; the time for Completion of Interior Construction of the Project shall be July 15, 201; the time for the Completion of the Project shall be August 15, 2011. Liquidated damages in the amount of five hundred dollars ($500) per day apply for each and every day that construction is delayed after giving effect to extensions of time as provided for in the contract.
The Contract and Plans with all necessary forms and other documents for Bidders in electronic format may be obtained from Owner. The Contract and Plans sheets may be examined at the offices of the Owner/Engineer.
Bidders shall file with the Engineer at least five (5) days in advance of the scheduled Bid Opening, the Bidder’s Qualifications. Questions relating to Bidder’s Qualifications shall be resolved prior to the Bid Opening date.
Silver Star Communications Sets March 17, 2011 for Pre-Bid Meeting
March 1, 2011
Silver Star announced March 17, 2011 as the date for the Pre-Bid meeting for contractors interested in participating in the Teton Broadband Project, which includes two fiber optic broadband projects. Silver Star Communications plans to install 109 miles of fiber optic cable using two routes, over Togwotee and Teton Passes beginning early this summer.
“With this connection, we can literally act on a global stage, in real time, with incredible speed and capacity. This project will transform the way we do business in Wyoming,” said Silver Star Communications Chief Operations Officer Ron McCue.
The Teton Broadband Project will expand existing broadband service to improve vital communication needs to schools, government offices, fire/EMS departments, hospitals and medical locations as well as Wyoming power companies. In addition to creating jobs and employing regional, the fiber, when completed, will enhance business recruitment opportunities throughout the region. The project is the brainchild of Silver Star Communications, a Wyoming based communications and technology company, offering broadband and wireless services to Jackson, Star Valley and Teton Valley. With expertise in wireless phones and data services, SSC offers progressive business solutions as well (i.e., phone systems, video conference, energy control systems). They were awarded ARRA funds through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program to execute their vision for connecting Wyoming communities to each other, and national and global networks.
Contractors interested in submitting proposals for either the Togwotee or Teton Pass project should attend the Pre-Bid meeting (open to the public) to be held at the Town Hall in Jackson on March 17th at 9 a.m. The first phase of the Teton Broadband Project is set to begin in late spring or early summer of this year. Karen M. Ricks, P.E., Silver Star Communications Engineering Manager points out, “We are excited to begin this work to really connect Wyoming communities with each other and, honestly, the global business stage. The Jackson community has been great to work with, and we look forward to helping them with faster and more reliable connectivity.” Interested bidders are required to attend this important meeting, unless the bidder has been notified prior to the meeting, that their attendance is not required.
Silver Star Communications will be holding a Pre-Bid meeting on March 17, 2011 at 9 a.m. at the Town Hall in Jackson, WY. Sealed proposals for the Teton Broadband Project will be due April 5, 2011. More information on the pre-bid meeting and the project is available online at www.silverstar.com/tetonbroadband.
Silver Star Communications Awarded Two NTIA Grant Awards for Broadband Projects
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.
This exciting investment in broadband infrastructure means that the fiber optic network that serves northwestern Wyoming will extend and be connected to networks the currently stop at Togwotee and Teton passes. The extension of the fiber – from Jackson through Moran and over Togwotee Pass, and then from Jackson through Wilson and over Teton Pass to the Idaho border near Victor, Idaho – will change the way our ideas, inspiration and business innovation will travel. Specific results include:
- Completion of a Wyoming fiber optic ring around the State of Wyoming and into southeast Idaho consisting of 120 miles of additional cable, connecting our communities and businesses and ideas – with the most cutting edge fiber technology available – to major networks all over the country;
- Advancing broadband capabilities (i.e., increased Internet speeds and more broadband capacity improving services for key community anchors including emergency services, schools, hospitals, libraries, national park headquarters, and town and county offices) to coincide with the ever expanding technologies made available through Ibooks, webstreaming, video conferencing, etc.;
- Increased reliability of all communication services (i.e., mobile phone, landline, and broadband) within the State of Wyoming due to the redundancy that will be created by closing the gap.
The following documents provide a project summary, fact sheet and more for each project.