It’s difficult to know how many people have moved to Santa Fe since the pandemic began, swapping their frenzied urban lives for the open skies and fresh air of New Mexico—like many before.
Many new residents have been cast as part of the ‘Zoom boom,’ recent transplants from the coasts who can afford Santa Fe’s ballooning home prices by working high-paying, remote jobs.
But the city’s internet facilities don’t meet the needs of these newly arriving remote workers, explains James Gleason, CEO of Vexus Fiber.
Gleason says the need for faster, more robust internet and an appropriate market size motivated Vexus to come to Santa Fe. The Texas-based internet provider received permission from the City Council earlier this month to use public rights of way to install fiber cables across town to provide high-speed connections to homes and businesses.
“Based on the growth of the market, a fiber broadband experience would be really well accepted,” Gleason tells SFR, adding that the current big-name providers such as Comcast and CenturyLink rely on older broadband technologies that can’t provide the speeds he says his company’s infrastructure project will give Santa Feans.
Vexus plans to get the first neighborhood connected by August. Gleason says he’s not sure which part of the city will get connected first as the project is still in the planning phase, but within 24 to 36 months, it should be complete.
He adds that the project will require roughly 85 construction workers to lay the fiber, “and then about half to 50 of those jobs will morph into permanent jobs that will be ongoing.”
Terry Lease, an asset development manager with the city, explains the city “hasn’t made a financial investment” in the project.
“We granted the franchise agreements, which allows Vexus to come in and make that $35 million, plus or minus, investment in Santa Fe,” Lease says, outlining the projected cost.
Lease adds that “this will be a benefit to the city to help attract certain types of companies to come and relocate here and build their businesses here.”
Another internet service provider, locally-based, is also working to improve access for Santa Fe and the surrounding community through the use of a new wireless technology that can reach farther distances than traditional wireless technology.
Albert Catanach, owner of NMSurf, explains that in areas where traditional, fixed wireless is “hit or miss,” the new technology can reach homes and businesses that aren’t in direct line of sight of a tower—typically needed for wireless internet.
The difference stems from hardware from Tarana Wireless—which NMSurf is using in Santa Fe—that transmits signals differently and minimizes interference of neighboring Wi-Fi networks.
Tarana says its product can achieve 10 times the capacity of standard wireless hardware. Catanach has witnessed the efficacy of this technology.
“One of the things that plagues wireless is interference, right?” says Catanach. “This technology basically ignores…interference. It’s basically in a world of its own,” which he says results in a better internet experience for users.
NMSurf hopes to expand the technology to the surrounding area to reach as far as Edgewood and Pacheco, rural regions that have limited options when it comes to internet access.