Colorado town fights Qwest for fiber

Silverton is the only country seat in Colorado that is not connected to the rest of the state by fiber optics. Qwest has a $37 million contract with the state of Colorado to link every county seat with reliable high-speed Internet access, but the carrier admits it has no plans to run fiber 16 miles to the town by the time the contract runs out next year.

Residents have been protesting for more than five years that they don't have fiber, but Qwest has installed a microwave system that it says is fast, has plenty of capacity, and can be upgraded. State officials apparently decided that microwave was good enough, but businesses in Silverton run into capacity problems during the summer when tourists come into town; too many credit card purchases jam up the system. It also doesn't help that an avalanche took out a relay tower back in 2005, interrupting all phone and Internet service for about 24 hours.

The San Juan County attorney has filed a brief arguing that the town is legally entitled to fiber, citing contract language and minutes from a 2003 meeting where Qwest officials said microwave would be a temporary fix until fiber-optic cable could reach Silverton. In addition, a complaint is being filed with the state Public Utilities Commission, and the town is trying to get broadband stimulus money.

For more:
- Denver Post reports on Silverton's fight for fiber. Article

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