The town of Bayfield wants to know how long residents wait for web pages to load.
The town is surveying residents and businesses about the quality of their internet service to determine if the town should expand its role in providing broadband services, said Town Manager Chris La May.
The involvement of a town in fiber-optic infrastructure development can fall along a spectrum, La May said. Towns can provide internet services directly, partner with private companies to build and provide fiber-optic service, or leave it up to private companies entirely to improve internet services, he said.
The town started its public outreach in April to determine if it needs to do more to ensure internet services are sufficient in the next 10 to 15 years, La May said.
“The demand for speed just keeps going up,” he said.
Quality internet service is particularly important for economic development in the community, he said.
Internet service in Bayfield has improved in recent years, but it still varies widely based on where residents live, said Ryan Sower, owner of Lewis True Value Mercantile.
“Anything that can be done to help would be good,” he said.
He said he would like to see additional internet service providers come to town. But he wasn’t sure if it was the town’s place get involved in internet services.
The town contracted with HR Green, an engineering firm, in February to lead the town’s public engagement process and write a plan to guide the town’s involvement in fiber development, La May said. The town contracted with HR Green for $75,000. About a third of the cost was covered by a grant through the state, he said.
As part of its contract, HR Green is conducting online surveys, holding a public forum -- which only four residents attended -- and meeting privately with policy makers, government anchor institutions, business owners and others to assess the town’s needs, La May said.
So far, about 144 people participated in the online surveys. From data drawn from the first 50 responses, 18% of Bayfield residents reported download speeds above the Federal Communications Commission definition of broadband of 25 megabits per second. Internet outages also occur often in town, with 43% of survey responses reporting an outage at least once a week.
“It’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” said Judy Bergman, a Fast Track employee and one of the town residents at the meeting. “It just gets really bogged down and slow. It’s so bad I don’t use it very often.”
HR Green is also gathering data on service offerings from each primary internet provider and comparing those services with a few cities of similar size. The company is expected to finish the plan for fiber development in a year, he said.
The town invested in some fiber infrastructure to serve its internal needs in 2013. The town’s fiber loop serves some of its internal departments, such as the water treatment plant and town hall. Some fiber is leased to private internet providers, such as Cedar Networks, La May said.
To take a survey, visit colorado.gov/townofbayfield. The online survey for residents and businesses will close June 21.
Residents can contact the city or Pine River Library for help filling out the survey.