For delivering competitively priced, high-speed, high capacity, reliable broadband, fiber-optic technology is the technology of choice now and for the foreseeable future.

Essentially all new data communications construction projects employ fiber-optic technology.  Fiber optic technology is used in place of the copper wires historically used for telephone and cable television. In a past meeting of the Estes Park Economic Development Corporation’s Competitive Broadband Committee, TDS reported that for all new construction, they use fiber-optic cable.

Even for wireless communications like cell phones, fiber optic technology is generally used everywhere except for the connection between cell phones and cell towers.

Fiber-optic communication is not a new technology; it was invented the 1970s.  However, it has now become the fastest-growing method for transporting high-bandwidth data worldwide.  Simply put, optical fiber works very well for transmitting data for bandwidth hungry applications, spanning long distances, ensuring the integrity and network security of the transported data, all relatively inexpensively compared to alternative technologies.  These inherent characteristics make optical fiber the ideal technology for broadband Internet connectivity.

No other data transmission medium offers the bandwidth capability of fiber-optic cables.  In addition, using recent generations of custom fiber-optic cabling, broadband capacity can be easily upgraded by simply changing a card or installing new equipment at the ends of the fiber optic cable.  There is no need to replace the fiber to increase capacity.

Optical-fiber cabling provides an extremely secure transmission medium.  Since fiber-optic cabling does not radiate magnetic fields, there is no way to easily detect the data being transmitted by “listening in” to the electromagnetic signal as is possible with traditional copper-based transmissions.  Information is transmitted by light confined within the fiber, so it is impossible to intercept the signal without cutting into the fiber. Physically tapping the fiber would take great skill and can be detected using fiber-optic testing equipment.

The Town’s Power and Light division is already installing a fiber-optic line between Estes Park and Allenspark, as part of their “smart grid” program.  “Smart grid” will reduce the cost and improve the quality of service within the local power grid.  For example, “Smart grid” will improve service by allowing faster location of potential and actual power grid issues.  A new fiber-optic line is being constructed from Glen Haven to Estes Park for the same purpose.  If the Town decides to play a role in providing broadband services, the broadband fiber would be able to piggyback on the “smart grid” infrastructure.

Some in the Estes Valley community may have wondered why the Town would consider investing in fiber-optic broadband technology when a future technology may make fiber-optic technology obsolete.  Should we wait for the better technology to arrive in the future?

As this article has made clear, fiber optic technology is the technology of choice for broadband delivery now and for the foreseeable future.

In the second article in this series, the capabilities and limitations of some proposed satellite-based broadband technologies will be assessed. For those interested in learning more, a more detailed version of this series appears on the EDC Broadband Committee web page at