Breck man leading petition drive for high-speed Internet | SummitDaily.com
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Breck man leading petition drive for high-speed Internet

BRECKENRIDGE – Erik Thorsteinson is tired of waiting for high-speed cable modem Internet to come to Breckenridge – so much so that he’s launching a petition drive designed to step up Comcast’s plans to make the service available in Summit County.Thorsteinson hopes to encourage Comcast, formerly AT&T Broadband, by giving it a list of people who say they’ll subscribe to the service for at least a year when it comes to Breckenridge.”If a sizeable amount of people commit to a year’s worth of payments to them, it’s a financial incentive for them,” Thorsteinson said. “I want high-speed Internet access. I’m working on starting my own business online and to start or do business online, you need high-speed Internet. The choices aren’t that great.”Comcast representatives say they’ll take a look at the results of Thorsteinson’s petition drive, but add they’re planning to make that service available within six months anyway.”The construction is well under way,” said Comcast spokesman Jeannine Hansen. “In Breckenridge and Summit County, we will be investing $6.8 million in our network, and we have spent more than $2 million already.”We are 75 percent done in Breckenridge, and 33 complete in the rest of Summit County. We expect the work to be completed within the next six months, and then we’ll able to launch service in Breckenridge and in Summit County.”The improvements will allow current Comcast cable TV subscribers to add cable modem service.”It means that on the same line, you could be receiving video services (cable TV), and also downloading and sending information on the Internet,” Hansen said.Those who are not Comcast subscribers could also add the service. The cost will range from $43 to $56 a month, depending on whether or not a subscriber already had a cable account and/or modem.Thorsteinson has looked into the options for high-speed Internet in the area, and he believes cable modem service offers the best combination of speed, reliability and cost-effectiveness. But Thorsteinson says he’s heard the six-months promise before, and because Comcast is updating its systems statewide to provide two-way communication, he worries Breckenridge could be bumped down on the priority list.Hansen doesn’t think that will happen. The company has finished its improvements in many parts of the state, including Hansen’s own Denver neighborhood.”I can tell you we are very serious about getting our upgrade in the entire state done as quickly as possible,” she said. “We know there is customer interest and we want to launch the service just as soon as we can. We wish we could upgrade everywhere all at once, but from a work standpoint, that’s not possible.”Comcast’s impending offer of high-speed Internet won’t have a negative effect on the beanpole project, said Summit County Telecommunications Consortium president Bernie Zurbriggen. The state-funded effort to bring high-speed Internet to rural communities is getting under way in Summit County. The beanpole grant money is paying a provider to use a wireless system that will link 53 government and nonprofit offices throughout Summit County. Private businesses and residents then can tap into the system, for an estimated cost of about $70 a month. That work should be done by May.”Our objective with all this is to have as many different technologies and providers as we can so that we have a competitive environment,” Zurbriggen said. “To that end, the beanpole is actually helping. My suspicion is that if we weren’t doing all that, (Comcast) would be much more laid back about getting the service to us.”Really, the objective is to make high-speed service as ubiquitous as possible, with different alternatives. For some people, wireless isn’t going to work, but maybe cable will and vice versa. You’ve got Colorado.net doing DSL, which serves yet a different market. It’s all good stuff and, in the end, the community will benefit.”Comcast, which recently acquired AT&T Broadband, is the largest cable company in the country and is headquartered in Philadelphia.Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at jreuter@summitdaily.com


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