The Who, What, When, Where & Why of Silver Star’s Broadband Expansion
The following is part one of a four-part series that we hope will help inform and explain the details of how Silver Star is building out its fiber-optic network over the next 5-10 years.
Most everyone wants, needs and deserves an excellent internet experience wherever and whenever possible.
Since Silver Star announced the CARES grant awards in August, there have been many questions about who receives the funding benefits and where. Here’s an attempt to answer as many questions as possible. Should you have additional questions, please submit them to us in the Contact Us form here.
Last year, we announced a 10-year/$100 million fiber-optic network expansion plan. But why 10 years? Why don’t we build it now? First, let’s talk about how this 10-year plan is made possible, and who it ultimately affects.
Outside of areas where Silver Star competes with other companies (places like Idaho Falls, Rexburg, Jackson, and Afton), we are known as the incumbent (in other words, the first) telecommunications carrier by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). These areas are also known as “regulated” serving areas, and the FCC regulates what we can and can’t do to receive monetary support. In Wyoming, these areas are the northern portion of Star Valley, including communities from Alpine south to just past the Narrows on the Salt River.
In Idaho, we are also the incumbent carrier in Swan Valley, Teton Valley, and Wayan. In these regulated areas, Silver Star currently receives annual federal support through the Connect America Fund (CAF) model called the Alternative Connect America Project (ACAM II). This model provides funding to service areas only where homes and businesses get internet speeds of less than 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload within our regulated regions. This a multi-year program that requires completion by the end of 2028, but it is our goal to expand our fiber-optic network to every possible, logical location (again, within the previously mentioned “regulated” areas) before 2026.
The funding provides up to $200 per month for each eligible location. This may sound like a lot, but our costs range from $48,000-$80,000 per mile for fiber-optic construction. There are 700 square miles in Star Valley alone, and there are 451 square miles in Teton Valley.
Some many variables and benchmarks need to be met to receive this funding. You can read more about this by going to fcc.gov.
Coming up next week in Part II – How the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted Silver Star’s gears for fiber construction in 2020.