The formation of a new state network by 11 independent telephone and Internet companies will aim to improve broadband access in New Mexico and, therefore, reduce prices for consumers.
Peñasco Valley Telephone Cooperative Inc., Sacred Wind Communications Inc., Western New Mexico Telephone Co. and others announced Monday the formation of NM Fiber Network LLC. The creation of the new company will allow the intermediate networks – which connect local networks to other providers – of each company to interconnect, thus strengthening the broadband connection across the state, said Glenn Lovelace, president of NM Fiber Network and CEO of Peñasco Valley Telephone Cooperative.
“It can help areas of the state that don’t currently have internet access and lower the price for those that do today,” Lovelace told the Journal. “And that can increase the reliability of each of them. It also opens doors for us in New Mexico to be able to compete nationally for services entering and crossing the state of New Mexico, which we could not do before.
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 focused on one of the roadmap principles and decided to start the company, which officially incorporated in late April.
NM Fiber Network has partnered with INDATEL — a nationwide network connecting more than 700 independent telecommunications providers — to give them access to nationwide circuits, Lovelace said. INDATEL, however, will also help NM Fiber Network with its backhaul – the part of broadband that connects local networks to the internet, usually at higher speeds.
According to the company’s website, NM Fiber Network’s Internet access points are expected to reach hubs such as Chicago, Illinois and Ashburn, Virginia. 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 rollout with a $42 billion credit — known as Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program name.
“What we’ll need to do is work with the state and pull together our requirements to connect the middle mile (network) and then write a BEAD grant and present it to the state,” Lovelace said. “And then, you know, with state approval, we would submit the BEAD grant and, knock on wood, we would be funded for the in-between mile that we need to complete.”
Lovelace said the guidelines for submitting a BEAD grant application are expected to be released within the next two months, when NM Fiber Network will begin gathering information to receive the funding. He also expects NM Fiber Network to begin operations this year.