News Flash

Summit County Government

Posted on: January 17, 2020

Project THOR Broadband Access Project Launches in Summit County

Dispatchers take calls at the Summit County 911 center.

Regional fiber network will provide secure, high-speed access to critical community anchors across 10 Colorado counties

Contact: Sarah Vaine, Assistant County Manager: 970-668-4006

SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit County and the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments are excited to announce the local launch of Project THOR, a regional high-speed broadband access project. The new network adds resilience to communications systems for emergency responders and makes Summit County a more attractive location for future investment by commercial broadband service providers. 

“This project has taken several years and significant collaboration and resources to come to fruition," said Karn Stiegelmeier, Summit County commissioner and NWCCOG board chair. "We are excited about the potential it offers our local partners and the increased confidence it will bring to our public safety system.”

Project THOR is a middle-mile network comprised of more than 400 miles of existing public and private fiber optic cable, establishing high-speed connectivity among 14 communities across Northwest Colorado. 

The project also provides reliable and resilient high-speed Internet access to our region from the Front Range. Each partner community has a minimum of two independent paths through which to receive services from the Regional Internet Exchange Point in Denver, rather than through a single connection pathway offered by current service providers. In the case of the Summit County 911 Center, Project THOR will help ensure that the lines of communication among 911 dispatchers, law enforcement, fire crews, ambulance crews and other responders aren’t interrupted.

“Whenever there’s a fiber cut, it impacts not only consumers in our towns, but also cellphone carriers, public safety centers, schools, hospitals and other critical services," said Nate Walowitz, NWCCOG regional broadband director. "By leveraging the fantastic technical and engineering support, we can offer carrier-grade services, have a real-time view into our network as well as the ability to reroute traffic in the event of an outage.”

Project THOR is the result of years of cooperative planning among seven northwest Colorado local governments (including Summit County), two regional electric co-ops, one health district and one nonprofit organization, in partnership with several Colorado state agencies, NWCCOG and Mammoth Networks. NWCCOG is the network owner, and Mammoth Networks serves as the network operator.

“Mammoth is working closely with project partners to create a robust and flexible network architecture that brings open, secure and redundant broadband at a lower cost to NWCCOG members," said Evan Biagi, vice president of business development for Mammoth Networks. "A lack of reliable broadband limits economic development. We hope that this brings new applications and services to Colorado.” 

The Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) provided generous matching grants for the cooperative venture: $1 million for network infrastructure and $270,000 for the first three years of fiber leases from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).

Project THOR is not a consumer service, but the resulting network will enable Summit County to offer reliable, resilient, cost-competitive middle-mile services to businesses and local government agencies. These organizations could then provide services that would enable delivery of competitive broadband to community residents and businesses.

As an example, Project THOR was a key component in the launch of high-speed consumer Internet and television services by Allo Communications and the Town of Breckenridge through the Fiber9600 project. In addition, there are plans to provide services that will deliver reliability and stability to public safety, health and education organizations.

Key Facts about Project THOR in Summit County:

  • Project THOR leverages more than 400 miles of existing unused fiber optic cable, much of it owned by CDOT.
  • The Summit County portion of Project THOR includes two broadband service hubs, known as Meet Me Centers. The Breckenridge Meet Me Center was built and funded through a partnership between the Town of Breckenridge and Summit County. This partnership will continue as the Town of Breckenridge looks to leverage the services made available by Project THOR to improve its own operations.
  • The Town of Breckenridge and Allo Communications have utilized services provided through Project THOR as a core component of the Fiber9600 project, delivering competitive television, high-speed Internet and telephone services to Breckenridge residents and businesses.

The host communities that will be connected to the Project THOR network include Summit County at Frisco and Breckenridge, Clear Creek County at Georgetown, Rio Blanco County at Meeker, Vail, Eagle, Glenwood Springs, Aspen, Yampa Valley Electric Association at Craig and Hayden, Middle Park Health at Kremmling and Granby and Northwest Colorado Broadband at Steamboat Springs.


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