New communications company comes calling in Red Feather Lakes

CenturyLink may get some competition from a Loveland-based startup if the company can obtain a grant from the federal government to help pay system infrastructure costs.

Eugene Bynes of Denver is partnering with Fort Collins resident Walter Huang in a company called G&W Telecommunications to build a wireless communications system from Huang’s Loveland data center to Red Feather Lakes, about 50 miles away.

CenturyLink, formerly Qwest, currently provides communications services to Red Feather Lakes area residents, but some residents have been critical of the speed of the service provided by CenturyLink, saying it is too slow to permit telecommuting.

Bynes made a presentation to the Red Feather Lakes Planning Advisory Committee on June 7, telling committee members his company could provide a less costly alternative to CenturyLink.
“It would be a substantially reduced cost from CenturyLink or Verizon,” Bynes said.

He said the system would require two signal relay towers to reach Red Feather Village. Because Red Feather is unincorporated, G&W would have to secure contracts with individual entities for their service.

CenturyLink officials met with the Red Feather Planning Advisory Committee in May and heard several complaints about their service. Officials at the time promised they would step up their efforts to improve the situation by mid-summer.

But planning committee members a month later said little had changed. “Nothing’s changed at my office, not a thing,” said Lon Hughes, PAC chairman and local Realtor.

Creed Kidd, Red Feather Lakes library director, said there remains a general feeling of dissatisfaction with CenturyLink.

“I think there has been some unhappiness and we have not had good service in the past,” Kidd said. “I think they have made a concerted effort to improve service, but we haven’t seen any increase in speed yet.”

Kidd, who heard Byne’s G&W presentation, said he thought it was “very good.”
“I thought it sounded very possible,” he said. “My concern is this is a startup that’s dropped out of the sky. Who are they and what can they do?”

Hughes, on the other hand, said he was not persuaded by the G&W presentation. “He didn’t impress me at all,” Hughes said.

Bynes said two 120-foot towers — likely on public land– would be needed to create the new system.

Bynes said those signed up to use the new system would have to purchase their own receiving equipment, which would cost between $300 and $400.

Alan Davis, CenturyLink’s area operations manager for Northern Colorado, said he could not comment on the possibility of competition from G&W.

“I don’t know what services they offer, so I really don’t have a comment on that,” he said.
Davis said CenturyLink is well along in making system improvements in the Red Feather area.
“We’ve already done that,” he said. When asked if local residents were still upset with CenturyLink’s service, Davis said he did not believe so.

“I guess I’m not hearing those complaints or getting any calls,” he said.

Kidd said he’s open to anything that will improve communications services.

“In terms of services, we are vendor-neutral,” he said. “If CenturyLink can do it, if G&W can do it, if Verizon can do it – that’s great, so long as the speed is there and it’s affordable.”

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