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    Q: Why does the 87059 East Mountains area have broadband speed and delivery challenges?

    01/25/2021

    A: The Tijeras community’s broadband challenges are a result of three issues that revolve around cost: population, topography, and delivery options.
    a.    Population Density: The 87059 ZIP code area has a density of 67 people per square mile compared with Albuquerque’s population density of 2,998 people per square mile. Telecom companies are hesitant to expand current infrastructure (cables, wires and satellite) or build future-proof broadband infrastructure (fiber optics) because of the low return on investment in areas with relatively low population and housing densities.

    b.    Geography and Trees: With beautiful mountains and tall trees, expanding current broadband infrastructure or building future-proof broadband infrastructure is difficult. Aerial delivery is near capacity Aerial delivery, or delivery of internet through the electric poles in the area, is at or near capacity. Underground delivery means digging trenches in mountainous terrain, adding millions of dollars to any build project. Trees and topography block microwave signals.

    c.    Infrastructure: Did you know that erecting one light pole – minus the cables and other wiring – costs anywhere from $2,500 to $3,000? And not all these poles are the tall ones we see along roads. Sometimes, they can be as short as eight to 10 feet tall. When telecom companies erect poles, they make money to pay off the work by charging their customers for the cable, phone, internet and electricity that are delivered to homes with the help of the pole. Again, the population density of Tijeras makes the return on investment very low. . In addition, the state of New Mexico estimates that that filling rural broadband gaps with fiber optics would cost between $2 billion and $5 billion, while a mixed approach of both fiber and wireless (using existing light poles) would cost less than $1 billion.

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