CenturyLink representatives will be meeting with Gunnison County Commissioners in February to provide a status update and build schedule for completing a fiber-optic connection between Buena Vista and the Western Slope running over Cottonwood Pass.

The broadband cable installation was scheduled to happen concurrently with finishing the paving of the pass last year, but, as with the rest of the road project, it faced delays from fall snowstorms among other unexpected construction delays, said CenturyLink global account manager Stephanie Meisse.

During construction on the pass, which began in earnest in 2017, crews laid a conduit under the road.

Once completed, the fiber-optic connection would provide much-needed redundancy to the internet provider’s middle-mile infrastructure in Colorado.

Data is distributed by service providers from the middle mile infrastructure to individual homes and businesses, the so-called last mile.

With redundant infrastructure, damage to the fiber-optic line is less likely to cause service outages, as secondary avenues of communication would still exist between places like Buena Vista and large data centers like Denver, where carrier hotels connect directly to the world wide web.

The downside of a middle mile infrastructure without redundancy was made apparent in 2017, when three significant outages of internet and phone hit Buena Vista in the span of 4 months. And again in 2018, when service was out for several days over the July 4 weekend due to fiber-optic line being damaged by a wildfire raging in Costilla and Huerfano counties.

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