Taos broadband network nearly done, but what’s the cost?


TAOS — Right now, residents of Las Vegas, N.M., can get 20 megabits-per-second Internet service for $69.95 a month. If you live in northeastern Oklahoma, the same price will get you a 50 mbps connection. And folks in central Missouri are actually looking at 100 mbps service for 10 bucks cheaper. But if you want access to Kit Carson Electric Cooperative’s brand-new fiber network at your house, $69.95 a month gets you 10 mbps.

“That sounds a little high to me,” said Sharon Strover, a professor in the College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin and an expert in rural broadband policy, when told about Kit Carson’s advertised cost of $199.95 for 20 mbps for business access. “On the face of it, $200 doesn’t sound very good.”

By comparison, the same download speed in Las Vegas, N.M., is $70 from Plateau Telecommunications and $80 from Guadalupe Valley Electric Co-op in relatively rural central Texas…

A few years back, Kit Carson was among a batch of awardees that got generous grant and loan packages under the federal stimulus program to expand superfast Internet to places for-profit companies were unlikely to approach. The co-op got a $45 million grant and $19 million loan to bring fiber-optic service to every customer it serves…

While its prices may still seem steep, the new fiber network appears to be impacting for-profit competition already. CenturyLink, for instance, is offering the fastest speeds it can give a customer for $29.95 a month for 12 months. But CenturyLink’s DSL network is limited, and doesn’t extend very far into less populated parts of the county…

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