Becoming a Fiber Group Organizer


What you need to know to get started


Calling all leaders!


Find out what it takes to organize and lead a community group through the process of getting reliable, high-speed, fiber-optic broadband into your neighborhood at the best possible price.


Groups may be formal homeowners, road or water user associations or simply groups of neighbors who come together to share the costs of deploying infrastructure to their neighborhoods.


Why organize?


The construction effort for building a modern, reliable fiber-optic network around San Juan County and in your community requires a joint effort between you, your neighbors and Rock Island Communications. The Rock Island team is actively working with organized groups across San Juan County to expand the fiber optic infrastructure. The more people who get involved and share expenses, the lower the per-property cost.


Designate a fiber group organizer


If you are a member of an organized water, road, homeowners, or other neighborhood-based association, approach your group’s leadership about putting together a plan to connect to fiber and about being their designated fiber group organizer.


No association? No problem. Simply poll your neighbors to see if you can establish a fiber group. Once you have a large enough group, designate a fiber group organizer (which might be YOU) and contact Rock Island to move the process forward.


Your role as a fiber group organizer


As a fiber group organizer, you become the primary contact between your group and Rock Island. The time commitment will depend upon the size of your fiber group and the complexity of your project.


Before we get into the details, there are a few components to building fiber-optic broadband infrastructure that are important to understand. They are:


1. Backbone – the main fiber line installed by OPALCO
2. Middle mile – the shared fiber that connects multiple properties to the fiber backbone
3. Last mile – the fiber that connects individual homes to the middle mile


As the fiber group organizer you will:


1. Organize: Gather contact information for your entire group, including email addresses, since we will be communicating closely with each property owner. Ask each property owner to complete our online form at This key step helps us to scope your project and develop initial estimates for middle and last mile fiber installations. Depending upon the size of your group, you may want to pull together a small committee to help you.
2. Educate: A key part of the process is helping the members of your group to understand the basics of fiber, the benefits, and what it takes to get it installed. Of course, we have resources that can help you educate your fiber group.
3. Communicate: Communicate processes, plans, status updates, and other important details with members of your fiber group. Gather feedback and questions from your fiber group to communicate back to Rock Island.
4. Scope: Organize informational and discovery meetings with your group and with Rock Island to outline the scope of the project, including the properties involved and the fiber design.
5. Finalize: Review the Rock Island costing and fiber map with your group to gain feedback, negotiate edits, and ultimately, to gain consensus on a go-forward plan. In some instances, you may need to organize a formal vote in accordance with your association’s by-laws.
6. Fund: Secure middle mile funding, which may include an assessment, borrowing as a group, or both.


The process of getting fiber


While every home and group will be unique, there are a few milestones and steps in the process that we can count on. This next section will give you an idea of the phases we will go through together.


1. Generate initial estimates: middle mile and last mile
The Rock Island team will deliver an initial design along with cost estimates for both. The design will include a low, medium and high per-foot cost of construction to give you an understanding of what may be involved given different ground conditions.


These initial estimates will help you understand the approximate cost for varying levels of participation in your area, and how changes can affect your associated costs. The estimates also provide a baseline for driving the conversation between your fiber group and Rock Island.


2. Generate final costing: middle mile


If we see increasing levels of interest, leadership, and engagement from your group, the Rock Island team will work with you to refine the design and cost estimates based on your group’s needs to create a firm cost estimate to build your middle mile solution. Note: Unless otherwise agreed to, firm last mile costings are typically generated in cooperation with individual homeowners after the middle mile buildout is complete.


3. Schedule middle mile construction


Once your fiber group has formally approved and funded the final middle mile costing, we then schedule your group for construction. We require each party involved to sign a cost estimate and an easement(s) to ensure our ability to construct based upon the agreed design.


You and your fiber group collectively control the timing of this process. The faster we come to agreement on a design and costs, the quicker we can begin the delivery of true high speed data and voice service. Middle Mile payment is what defines your scheduled start date with our construction team. The sooner the payment, the sooner the start date.


4. Build middle mile


The time it takes to build out your middle mile depends upon many variables, such as distance, topography, and existing utilities and infrastructure. Most middle mile builds range from one to four months.


5. Estimate last mile


During or immediately following the middle mile build, we will begin working directly with individual property owners to determine the best last mile path to their homes in order to finalize last mile designs and cost estimates. Sharing last mile builds with close-by neighbors can be a very effective way of saving money. Once a property owner’s last mile cost estimate is complete, we will send the property owner paperwork, including an easement and a final costing, for signature.


6. Build last mile


Once a property owner’s submits completed paperwork and funding, Rock Island will schedule and begin last mile construction to the home. This work includes trenching, installing conduit and fiber, connecting the home to the middle mile, and completing any internal construction required.


7. Connect!


The final step! Installing the modem and getting the homeowner up and running on speeds of up to 200 MBPS – upload AND download!


So what are you waiting for?


Interest in high-speed fiber optic broadband is building rapidly in San Juan County. So, the sooner you get organized, the sooner you can enjoy the benefits of a reliable, high-speed broadband connection.