The formation of a new state network by 11 independent phone and internet companies will look to improve broadband access in New Mexico and, in turn, lower rates for consumers.
Peñasco Valley Telephone Cooperative Inc., Sacred Wind Communications Inc., Western New Mexico Telephone Co. and others announced on Monday the formation of NM Fiber Network LLC. The creation of the new company will allow the middle mile networks – which connect local networks to other providers – of each business to interconnect with one another, strengthening the broadband connection across the state, said Glenn Lovelace, chairman for NM Fiber Network and CEO of Peñasco Valley Telephone Cooperative.
“It can help the areas of the state that do not currently have internet access and reduce the price for those that have it today,” Lovelace told the Journal. “And it can increase the reliability for all of them. It also opens doors for us in New Mexico to be able to compete on a national level for service coming in and across the state of New Mexico, which we could not do previously.”
The formation came together last fall when the New Mexico Broadband Initiative Consortium – a public-private partnership – was tasked with creating a broadband roadmap for the state that was submitted in January.
In turn, local phone and internet companies put a renewed focus on one of the tenets of the roadmap and decided to form the company, which came together officially in late April.
NM Fiber Network has partnered with INDATEL – a nationwide network connecting more than 700 independent telecom providers – to give them access to national circuits, Lovelace said. INDATEL, though, will also help NM Fiber Network with its backhaul – the portion of broadband that connects local networks to the internet, typically at higher speeds.
NM Fiber Network’s internet access points are expected to reach hubs such as Chicago, Illinois, and Ashburn, Virginia, according to the company’s website. The company says it will offer speeds of 10 megabits per second to 100 gigabits per second across the state.
The formation of NM Fiber Network comes at an important time, Lovelace said, as state agencies across the country plan to help improve broadband deployment through a $42 billion appropriation – known as the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program (BEAD).
“What we will need to do is work with the state and pull our needs together to connect the middle mile (network) and then write a BEAD grant and present that to the state,” Lovelace said. “And then, you know, with the state’s approval, we would submit the BEAD grant and, knock on wood, we would be funded for the middle mile that we need to fill in.”
Lovelace said the guidelines for submitting an application for the BEAD grant should come out in the next two months, at which point NM Fiber Network will begin putting together information to receive the funding. He also expects NM Fiber Network to begin operations as soon as this year.