Building a Fiber Network from Start to Finish

August 15, 2023

You may have heard words like ‘zones,’ ‘grants,’ and ‘fiber buildout’ tossed around, but what are the steps involved in constructing a reliable fiber optic network? Here at Elevate, we’re in the thick of constructing a 100% fiber-optic network throughout DMEA’s territory. With multiple grants underway and construction crews connecting cables and equipment, we’re laying the groundwork to provide fiber internet to customers in our farthest reaches. Read on to learn about each step involved!


When DMEA’s Board of Directors decided to launch Elevate in 2016, they had carefully considered population density, existing infrastructure, and demand for high-speed internet in our rural territory. Since then, it has been all systems go to construct our fiber network.

Grant Procurement

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has invested in rural telecommunications for decades. They recognize that providing high-speed internet is vital to industry, schools, homes, and healthcare – and rural Americans do not have equitable access to broadband. USDA is working to provide e-Connectivity through its Rural Development Reconnect Program. Elevate has applied for and received multiple Reconnect grants, as well as grants from the State of Colorado, to fund our fiber buildout.

Network Planning and Design

Our network engineers and designers have created a detailed plan and design for Elevate’s fiber-optic network. This includes mapping out our coverage area, finding the optimal routes, estimating the amount of cable and other supplies needed, and constantly re-evaluating to make sure we are cost-efficient and effective. We’re using electric poles and infrastructure that are already there wherever possible, which makes our project ‘icing’ on the DMEA ‘cake’!

Obtaining Permits and Rights-of-Way

Elevate staff are often able to use existing utility easements for property access for buildout. When that isn’t possible, we work with property owners to get the necessary permits and rights-of-way. This process ensures we have permission to install fiber cables along public roads, private properties, and public land.

Procurement of Equipment and Materials

We source and purchase fiber optic cables, optical transceivers, distribution cabinets, splice closures, poles, and other specialized hardware for construction—and it all has to be timed just right. As soon as grant funding becomes available, we buy these supplies and distribute them through a warehouse inventory system to contractors and Elevate construction crews.

Network Construction

Once design and permits are in place and supplies are available, construction begins. This involves the installation of fiber-optic cables underground (trenching) or overhead along poles (aerial). These cables are joined in distribution cabinets and through fiber splicing, connecting individual fibers together in a continuous optical path. Once complete, we test and verify the network to make sure it is living up to our high standards and capable of sending split-second light signals across our service territory.

Elevate is undergoing our most intense construction phase yet, with multiple state and federal grants making it possible to reach some of the most remote areas in our territory. For example, the Greater Gunnison Gorge Grant project includes 232 miles of fiber in rural Montrose County, including the mountainous terrain near Cimarron. Our Reconnect 2 Grant project includes 272 miles of fiber in rural Delta County, including the Pea Green area. You can find the latest construction updates on our Networks News here.

Customer Distribution

The fiber’s path ends at customer locations like homes, offices, or data centers. This involves installing equipment at your home or business, such as optical network terminals (ONTs) – think of these as fiber modems – and wireless routers to tie our super-speedy fiber-optic network to your phone, computer, or other smart device.

Once the network infrastructure is in place and connected to end-user locations, service is activated along the network, and reliable internet is provided to you, our customers! Behind-the-scenes work involves configuring network switches, routers, and other network components so you can watch cute cats on YouTube, jump on a video call for work, or gank your newbie gamer opponents on Call of Duty without any lag.

Ongoing Maintenance and Support

Our Customer Service Representatives and Network Operations Support Analysts are here to provide regular support to make sure our customers have a great experience with Elevate. This includes answering questions, monitoring network performance, troubleshooting issues, and upgrading or expanding the network as needed.

A crucial part of this entire process is working with experienced professionals and listening to existing customers to help ensure Elevate service is high-quality and future-proof. We’re dedicated to creating a reliable network that provides fast, convenient internet, even in the most remote areas of our territory.

Ready to join the fiber network? Find out if you are in a live Elevate zone.

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