MARCH 18, 2009 -- The fewer than 1,000 people living in Wiggins, CO have something in common with everyone else in the country -- they want high-speed Internet access in their homes.
To meet these needs, Wiggins Telephone Association, a growing conglomerate of small telecom companies that has been serving the area since 1951, had plans to replace its burdened, outdated network but required a flexible, modern solution to help meet the Internet connectivity service needs of customers.
Wiggins Telephone has helped develop economic and technological progress in Wiggins and the surrounding rural area, offering high-speed Internet connectivity, cell phone plans, and traditional wired telephone service.
However, Wiggins Telephone Association's copper telephone network was nearing the end of its 30-year lifecycle. Demand for new data services was placing new burdens on the existing telecom network. Many customers were still using dial-up connections, and Wiggins was not able to deploy broadband services like DSL in many areas because of limitations associated with copper.
After studying the situation closely, the company decided to implement a long-range solution that would meet user requirements for the next 30-plus years. "Fiber to the home was the only logical choice," says Casey Quint, plant supervisor for Wiggins Telephone.
In order to deliver connectivity into local homes and businesses, Wiggins needed a set-top box, essentially a router for each of the premises. "We didn't want the customer to provide their own router," says Terry Hendrickson, Wiggins CEO and general manager. "We decided to take ownership of that piece. This way we can help them manage and support the equipment, and we don't end up having to support a huge variety of self-installed routers from different manufacturers. It's easier for the customer, and it's easier on us."
Another regional telecom provider, Golden West Internet Solutions, suggested that Wiggins install D-Link (search Lightwave for D-Link) routers in its local service area.
After testing several routers from various manufacturers, Wiggins chose the D-Link Wireless G Router (WBR-1310). The 802.11n router connects to an optical network terminal (ONT) card provided by Calix (which is Wiggins' transport provider) (search Lightwave for Calix). The card links to a gigabit fiber port outside the structure.
"The D-Link router offered us a quality, low-cost solution that we could feel comfortable putting into the customer's house," says Hendrickson. "We went with D-Link because of their support, and authentication and handing out the IP addresses was easy and reliable with their equipment."
"With D-Link, we can deliver end-to-end optic fiber connectivity -- from 3 Mbytes to 100 Mbytes -- to any home or business. We offer tiered pricing, so we can be flexible as bandwidth needs increase," says Quint. "It's as good as it gets."
The service area covered by Wiggins includes 1,600 phone lines that spread over 2,000 square miles. That's less than one customer per square mile. "It's a rural area, but we need high-speed Internet services just like people do in the cities, perhaps more so. We can't just go around the corner to a coffee shop and get Wi-Fi. People in the city take that for granted," says Hendrickson.
Wiggins is hoping that the project will serve as a stimulus to the local economy. "Internet connectivity is essential these days," says Hendrickson. "We have a lot of work from home moms and home businesses in the area, and they need the bandwidth."