Commissioner Charlene Pyskoty launched a broadband frequently asked questions page and email updates list for the East Mountains, according to a news release from Bernalillo County.

The FAQ page will help East Mountain residents understand the ins and outs of how broadband internet works and affects their community, while the email list will provide residents with updates on bringing more broadband to the area.

“As the legislative session continues it is clear to the executive and legislative branches of government that we need better broadband in rural New Mexico,” she said. “Our intention with the East Mountain FAQ and email service is to have well-informed constituents assisting and contributing to our advocacy and ultimately helping us to get to the front of the line for infrastructure investment in our community.”

According to the FAQ, the 87059 ZIP code meets the national benchmark speed, 25/3 Mbps, which means 25 megabits per second for downloading and three megabits for uploading, but the speed might not be enough if there are too many devices in a home. The more devices, the more Mbps a connection needs.

The Bernalillo County Public Works staff identified the 87059 ZIP code as the area in the East Mountains that had the lowest broadband speeds, as well as the most underserved ZIP code by high-speed broadband providers. The FAQ says these challenges stem from “three issues that revolve around cost: population, topography, and delivery options.”

Telecom companies are hesitant to expand to the area because the population density is so low, according to the FAQ. There is typically a low return on investment in areas with lower populations and housing.

The 87059 area also has many trees and mountainous areas, which would be extremely costly to update or create new infrastructure. Lastly, the cost of the actual poles for is anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000. Telecom companies make the money back by charging customers for the utilities delivered to their homes by the pole, but because of the low population densities in the area, the return investment is low.

The FAQ said, “the state of New Mexico and other industry experts agree that fiber is a future-proof technology, meaning that once the infrastructure is built—especially if it is underground—it is extremely resistant to corrosion and deterioration, meaning a long service life.”

Fiber broadband is a fairly new technology that delivers internet through an optical fiber that carries a communications signal from the operator’s equipment to a home or business, according to fiberbroadband.org.

The East Mountains gets most of its internet from cable and phone lines, and will need federal, state, or other dollars to build the underground fiber networks. It is estimated that it will cost anywhere from $2 billion to $5 billion, but a mixture of fiber and wireless internet would cost less than $1 billion, according to the FAQ.

Visit the FAQ provided by Bernalillo County here.

To sign up for the email list, click here.