The Southern Ute Indian Tribe picked a company called Bonfire Fiber to manage and operate its fiber broadband network, which could connect nearly 2,800 residents with high-speed internet.
The broadband internet service will be open access, where retail internet providers can sell their services over the network. A news release from the tribe says the open access model will stimulate market competition, allowing residents and businesses to choose the service provider that best meets their needs.
“This step by the Tribe will change broadband on the Reservation, paving the way for greater access to the internet,” the release says.
Jeff Engman, Southern Ute Indian Tribe's chief information officer, said open access will improve broadband speed, quality and affordability.
“The relationship with Bonfire Fiber is an important Tribal step toward bridging the digital divide and fostering digital equity,” Engman said.
Engman previously told KSJD the reservation on Southern Ute land is covered by wireless providers that don’t meet “what we call a modern standard.” KSJD reported households on the reservation do not currently have any fiber internet access.
The development will improve education and health care access and make room for more job opportunities, the release says.
Tribal residents and business owners from seven broad service areas, including Arboles, Florida Mesa and the town of Ignacio, can signup for service online at bonfirefiber.servicezones.net/southernute. Bonfire Fiber’s website says signups could sway how areas are prioritized for the new fiber broadband service.
An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect number of how many people are expected to be connected to high-speed internet as part of a new fiber broadband internet network involving the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. Incorrect information was given to the Herald.