Fiber-optic internet coming to Daggett County

The Utah Education and Telehealth Network and Strata Networks plan to bring fiber-optic internet service to Daggett County by spring 2019, greatly improving the speed of service to the area. For now, plans include service to Manila High School, Flaming Gorge Elementary in Dutch John and Uintah Basin Medical Center's Manila Clinic. Service may also extend to area cell towers, an electrical substation near the Flaming Gorge dam and to UDOT cameras along U.S. routes 44 or 191.

"We're really just trying to get faster fiber-based internet to the schools," UETN Associate Director Dennis Sampson said.

The project is budgeted at $3.3 million.

UETN, which provides internet and communication infrastructure for Utah's schools, secured 80 percent of the project's funding - $2.64 million - through E-Rate, the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund.

The Universal Service Fund comes from fees the U.S. government charges telecommunications companies with the goal of funding universal access to telecommunications. The fees are often passed onto consumers, appearing as a "universal service fee" on bills.

UDOT will provide $500,000 and UETN will provide $160,000.

Although the current project will not provide residential or commercial fiber optic service, Sampson said Strata may choose to do so on its own.

"Strata obviously has some business interests," Sampson said. "They're doing the project."

Strata Marketing/Public Relations Manager Tyler Rasmussen wrote in an email that service could be connected to local internet providers in Daggett County.

"Strata will not be providing fiber service to residents as part of this project," Rasmussen wrote. "The fiber service will be delivered to the two previously mentioned schools, according to the Utah Education and Telehealth Network (UETN) contract, and may be delivered to the other locations/organizations according to future needs and discussions."

In addition to benefiting education and healthcare, Sampson said that UETN and Daggett County leaders hoped the project would also improve the area's economy.

"Our intent is also to help the economic development, as well," Sampson said.

Daggett County Commissioner Jack Lytle said he was glad the service would extend to the county.

"We look at it as an economic development project," Lytle said. "It'll be a great opportunity for the county."

Cable for the project will be laid from Vernal to Daggett County adjacent to U.S. Route 191. Once in Daggett County, the cables will be routed along both U.S. Route 44 and U.S. Route 191 to reach Manila and Dutch John, respectively.

Source: Joshua Murdock, Uintah Basin Standard

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