Aspen Community Broadband

NWCCOG celebrates The City of Aspen’s “Aspen Community Broadband” project which was recognized for one of three annual Excellence Awards from CGAIT (Colorado Government Association of Information Technology) in 2020 for “Enhancing Public-Facing Communications and Services.” This is the announcement from CGAIT: Aspen’s remote geographic location and the adverse impacts from periodic commercial Internet Service Provider (ISP) network outages led the City of Aspen and Pitkin County to improve communications network resiliency by delivering better and more cost-effective broadband. Additional community benefits of Aspen Community Broadband include net neutrality, no monthly data caps and fostering healthy broadband competition. The City of Aspen leveraged their existing fiber optic network, which before February 2019 served only City and Pitkin County government operations, to deliver broadband services to community anchor institutions including Aspen School District, Mountain Rescue Aspen, Grassroots Community Network, City of Aspen, Pitkin County, Pitkin County Broadband Initiative and three local ISPs. The Aspen team learned broadband service delivery business and technical skills by collaborating with Northwest Colorado Broadband (NCB), Glenwood Springs, the NWCCOG Project THOR partners and Mammoth Networks. Team Aspen’s Lean Startup approach achieved positive results with no additional staff! The exemplary regional collaboration led by NWCCOG continues to improve broadband services in Aspen, Pitkin County, the Roaring Fork Valley and throughout Northwest Colorado. Paul Schultz, Director of Information Technology for the City of Aspen and his team have leveraged their hosting of a Project THOR meet-me-center (MMC) more rapidly than any other MMC host and have become the first host to need to increase their originally envisioned capabilities of their network and are responding by moving up from a Class 4 to a Class 3 MMC host. Their direct engagement with community anchor institutions is driving the increased need and so is leveraging THOR to serve three local broadband providers. Aspen was one of the first to experience the value of Project THOR’s redundancy when fiber up the Roaring Fork Valley was cut in the summer of 2020 and the network seamlessly failed over to a redundant path that goes directly to Denver without any interruption in service. Schultz says of NWCCOG’s Project THOR, “with current events increasing our demand for critical communications and remote working, Project THOR is reliably delivering the robust broadband services required by the Aspen community, including city, county, school district, GrassRoots Community Network, local ISPs and emergency operations.”