Daggett Fiber Project Celebration
It’s not every day you get to celebrate the literal moving of mountains, but it happened September 2, 2020 in Manila, Utah. The event marked the completion of a $6 million dollar, three-year project to bring more than 68.7 miles of fiber-optic infrastructure for broadband to Manila, Dutch John and the scenic Flaming Gorge Dam recreation area in rural Daggett County.
About 28 miles of that fiber pathway from the Uintah Basin required a 100,000 pound carbon-tipped rock saw digging five-foot trenches through solid rock. To accomplish the feat, a crew of nine workers lived in trailers along mountainous US Highway 191 for more than year. By project’s end, about 900,000 tons solid rock was excavated for a fiber-optic conduit and the fragile glass fiber it houses. The light traveling through those fibers now brings gigabit connectivity supporting healthcare, education and commerce to the county.
“Utah students and educators, patients and physicians should have access to the best technology no matter where they live,” said UETN CEO Ray Timothy. “Broadband is a necessity to promote growth in communities, business, tourism, education and healthcare.” With Daggett’s annual influx of more than 2-million visitor days (a family of four staying four days equals 16 visitor days), the need for telehealth connectivity has never been more urgent.
“Telehealth services are dependent on high speed internet connectivity in rural communities, which is why we are so thrilled about this accomplishment,” said UETN Associate Director for Telehealth Matt McCullough. “Uintah Basin Healthcare’s Manila Clinic is a great example of a small rural clinic that had minimal connectivity and now has access to high speed fiber. Some cases can now be handled through telehealth rather than expensive and time consuming trips to a hospital.”
“The Daggett school district was among the last two districts in the state not fully connected to fiber for its schools in Manila and Dutch John”, said UETN associate director Jeff Egly who helped initiate and complete the project. “The district helped pioneer distance learning decades ago with analog equipment and now it will have state of the art connectivity thanks to this project.”
The project required a high degree of collaboration. Partners include Daggett County, Daggett County School District, Federal Communications Commission, STRATA Networks, US Bureau of Reclamation, US Forest Service, Utah Education and Telehealth Network, and the Utah State Legislature.
The Daggett Fiber Completion Celebration was held at Manila High School and online. More information including a photograph of the drilling rig and a video are posted here: http://go.uen.org/bMk