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Customer story: Winning partnership for widespread broadband

Customer story: Winning partnership for widespread broadband

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe (SUIT) realized the need for extended broadband connectivity and were facing FTTH deployment challenges in regards of not making adverse impact on cultural and archaeological resources. Here’s the story of the collaboration between SUIT, Bonfire Engineering and Construction, and Hexatronic.

The digital divide

Internet access has become recognized as the fourth utility in addition to water, gas and electricity, because it impacts every part of our lives in our rapidly changing world – from work to school to home. With the introduction and accelerated advancement of technologies, having access to affordable, redundant and abundant broadband is quickly becoming the critical infrastructure of our time. However, there is a vast majority of homes and businesses in far-reaching rural areas that do not have any means to connect to the Internet. This is referred to the “digital divide.” The digital divide typically exists between those in cities and those in rural areas, including tribal lands.

Partnership as an ecosystem

At the onset of the COVID pandemic, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe (SUIT) realized that 86% of the Reservation’s 6,800 (tribal and non-tribal) homes and businesses across their 1,058 square miles located in Southwestern Colorado, did not have broadband connectivity due to non-existent infrastructure. As part of the Tribal Broadband Modernization Project, the Tribe researched partners to engineer and construct a multi-phase plan, that will deliver broadband to 95% of homes within 5 years. Bonfire Engineering and Construction (Denver, CO) was selected as the Tribe’s engineering and construction partner. Bonfire in turn, partnered with Hexatronic U.S. (Lexington, KY) to be their primary supplier of the fiber optic infrastructure needed to build the Tribe’s end-to-end Fiber to the Home (FTTH) solution.

Together as an ecosystem, Bonfire and Hexatronic continue to engage tribal stakeholders to collaborate and communicate step-by-step to make sure that they will design and install the most cost-effective, reliable, and scalable system that will not only remove the digital divide but bring digital equity to current members and future generations. After presenting the plans to the SUIT stakeholders, the Tribe’s Southern Ute Shared Services (SUSS) and Bonfire recommended a system based on blown fiber technology from Hexatronic. This installation will take place in multiple phases through 2026 and will include securing national grants available for infrastructure upgrades.

Cooperative collaboration is key

For full story, find the whitepaper below, that focuses on the highly collaborative effort between tribal entries, Bonfire and Hexatronic, in the planning and designing of the multi-phase broadband project. This cooperative collaboration among all parties involved was key to assuring there would be no adverse impact to cultural and archaeological resources, while adhering to all the requirements from Federal, State, Country, and Local agencies. In the whitepaper it’s explained why a blown fiber system (vs. a traditional fiber optic system) from Hexatronic was selected – including cost and labor savings, simplified installation and maintenance, and also that it provides a migration path for future applications and connections.

Read full story

Stay tuned to find out more about the actual installation phases – from placing the above-ground communication towers to the intricate process boring of the land for the underground microduct system and installing fiber out to the businesses and homes.


Photo Credit: Lindsay J. Box


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