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Southeast NM to get $5M virtual upgrade

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

A new 107-mile fiber optic network will soon cut through the heart of New Mexico’s oil-producing Delaware Basin in Lea and Eddy counties, offering high-speed internet service from Carlsbad to Jal.

The $5 million project, to be completed in August, is being financed jointly by ExxonMobil, Plateau Telecommunications Inc. and the state Information Technology Department. Plateau, which offers internet, phone and cable TV service to residents in 18 eastern New Mexico counties, will invest $2.75 million to lay the fiber optic line.

ExxonMobil and the state will each kick in $1.1 million, providing direct broadband for the first time to oil companies operating in the Delaware Basin. It will also create high-speed internet availability for hundreds of households and businesses, as well as 13 schools, health facilities and community centers, according to the New Mexico IT Department.

“Once construction is complete, this partnership will improve communications services in the region,” said IT Cabinet Secretary Vince Martinez in a statement. “It will benefit the oil and gas industry, government agencies and private citizens.”

Plateau will own and operate the network, expanding broadband access in Carlsbad while providing it for the first time in Jal, said Chief Operating Officer Vince Tyson.

The company currently operates about 5,200 miles of fiber optic in its service territory, including a backbone network that runs from Roswell south through Artesia and Carlsbad, and down to El Paso before looping back north along the Interstate 25 corridor.

That line offers broadband to some Carlsbad customers, but the new line will significantly expand access in and around the city, where most customers have only wireless services, Tyson said.

The upgrade offers exponential improvement over cumbersome wireless speeds of 5 to 10 megabits per second, allowing upgrades to 100, 500 and 1,000 Mbps subscriptions for businesses, and 100 or 1,000 Mbps for residential subscribers.

The line will offer direct broadband access for ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy and for other oil companies in the Delaware.

“It will loop through the oil fields where all the new activity is happening,” Tyson said.

For ExxonMobil operators and engineers who remotely monitor operations from field offices around the world, direct broadband will provide real-time data on well performance, such as well pressures, surface temperatures and flow rates, allowing them to immediately respond to events that could cause downtime, the company told the Journal. Currently, that data is received within hours or, in some cases, the next day.

“This collaboration will provide greater connectivity for area businesses, schools and households, and make southeast New Mexico a safer place to live and work,” said XTO President Staale Gjervik in a statement. “The new capability also expands communications capabilities for ExxonMobil, allowing the company to leverage real-time data analysis from field processes and increase efficiency in our operations.”


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