Payson Loses Fast Internet Access

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Local Webheads who were looking forward to tapping Cybertrails' long-hyped, high-speed DSL Internet connections are out of luck.

Cybertrails' DSL vendor has gone belly-up.

And according to Richard Moore, Cybertrails' data communications consultant, "There's a high degree of certainty that DSL service won't be offered in Payson by any provider in the foreseeable future."

Despite Cybertrails' initiative to bring DSL Digital Subscriber Line to Payson, Moore said, "the company that had contracted with Qwest to provision the copper lines and make DSL available went out of business."

Moore would not identify the now-defunct company except to say "it was a vendor of ours. It's a Qwest-like company, a carrier.

"We are very sorry that we're not able to provide the service," he said, "We were ready and able, but they were not, due to financial difficulties, due to the downturn of the stock market and the drying up of venture and growth capital."

DSL is a dedicated, always-on, high-speed connection to the Internet that uses more bandwidth on copper phone lines than is currently used for normal telephone service. By utilizing frequencies above the telephone bandwidth (300Hz to 3,200Hz), DSL can encode more data to achieve higher data transmission rates than possible in the restricted frequency range of a normal network.

In order to utilize the frequencies above the voice audio spectrum, DSL equipment must be installed on both ends and the copper wire in between sustains the higher frequencies for the entire route.

The company that folded and left local Websters in the lurch was to have laid the copper lines between Payson and the Valley.

Its failure, however, doesn't mean that Payson will be without high-speed Internet service for the foreseeable future. It only means that Payson will be without affordable residential Internet service for the foreseeable future.

Cybertrails technicians, including Moore, were in Payson this week to consider the possibility of installing a fixed-base wireless system, which, he said, is "very popular in rural and non-metropolitan markets where DSL isn't available.

"We've already employed wireless technology in Show Low, Winslow and Holbrook, and we're working toward Snowflake. Those towns will not have DSL service, either, because their telephone service is provided by Citizens Communications, which is not in any position to bring DSL to them any sooner than Qwest."

While wireless service has been a hit from reliability and commercial adoption standpoints, Moore said, "It is not a real viable residential service as yet; the equipment and monthly costs are a little bit too high for the typical residential user. But we're playing with a price model now to see if we can't make it affordable."

Cybertrails tried to launch a wireless residential system in Sedona earlier this year, Moore said, "but it just didn't take off because of price. It was close to $100 a month, and people think that's a lot of money because cable (television) is typically $30 or so, and DSL service is $40 and $50.

"But there's a capital investment associated with wireless Internet," he said, "and it's not just a fixed outlay that you make one time and voile! you're in the wireless Internet business. You have costs go up with your capacity and your subscriber base growth."

There also are geographic drawbacks to a wireless system especially in an area such as Payson.

"DSL fits where it fits; wireless is something that we use where land is relatively flat and trees are not apparent," Moore said. "That's Winslow, but it is not Payson. So right now we're in town doing some engineering and survey work to see where we might be able to make a coverage pattern work."

If Cybertrails can lay out a plan on paper for hardware deployment, Moore predicted, "We'd be looking at 30 to 60 days for a typical deployment. But that does not include caveats like towers. If we can get the existing towers we need we're not putting up any new ones we can move forward."

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