City of Espanola Mayor Javier Sanchez chats with Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez during an early June meeting on the request for funding. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
CIty of Espanola Mayor Javier Sanchez on Thursday reacted to the announcement by Rep. Teresa Leger-Fernandez that the City stands to receive some $879,506 for broadband.
“This is a huge step toward bringing Espanola into the fully-integrated and connected digital world,” Sanchez told the Los Alamos Reporter.
He said the COVID pandemic left everyone scrambling for better internet connectivity.
“Our children had to learn from home with whatever outdated computers they had on whatever outdated broadband service they could find. On top of that, our citizens throughout the valley had to find ways to work from home. All of the excess demand outpaced capacity,” Sanchez said. “That’s where the City of Espanola stepped in to try and find solutions.”
He said thanks to Los Alamos National Laboratory who worked with the City’s Planning Department, the CIty was able to fund the critical first step – a needs assessment study.
“With the help of local partners and stakeholders, REDINet mapped out what the City of Española would need to provide thousands of households wireless broadband internet service. Turns out we could do it at speeds faster than currently provided by local ISP’s with the help of federal dollars,” Sanchez said. “Thanks to Congresswoman Teresa Leger-Fernandez, we were selected for final appropriation. She instantly saw the need and opportunity for success in Española’s broadband initiative.”
In partnership with REDINet and building on Cares Act spending last fall to upgrade local broadband structure, the City’s asked for $1.7 million to be used for installing 30 five-gigahertz signal distribution points—antennas that will send and receive wireless signal—at nine sites to provide highspeed, fixed wireless service to Española residents and businesses. The establishment of this network of antennas would make highspeed, wireless Internet available to at least 5,000 homes and 380 businesses in the community.
This year, the Appropriations Committee allowed each Member of Congress to request funding for up to 10 projects in their district for FY2022 and retained decision making authority to choose projects funded. The funding for the nine projects selected in Rep. Leger Fernandez’s district will be used to support the operations, maintenance, and continued development of community projects across northern New Mexico.