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Credit: Larry Johnson, "Denver Skyline at Sunset," December 17, 2009

New West Daily Roundup for Nov. 1, 2016

Today in New West news: Comcast pledges gigabit internet across Front Range, Wyoming cycling, future of Ponnequin wind farm, and TECHeGO partners with California firm to make cloud-based “AI-enabled marketplace.”

According to the Denver Business Journal, Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp. has once again pledged to bring gigabit-per-second residential internet service to the entire Front Range by early 2017:

“Comcast understands that internet speed is critical for customers who want to be able to do more, faster, with as many speed choices as possible,” said Rich Jennings, regional senior vice president for Comcast.

Comcast — which offers home internet, cable and phone service under the Xfinity brand — did not announce prices for its gigabit internet service.

What Comcast is announcing is the first widespread deployment of gigabit internet speeds using existing networks of coaxial cable and fiber optic lines that are already in place in most neighborhoods and homes.

The cable company — like competitor CenturyLink Inc., Colorado’s largest land-line phone provider — currently offers gigabit-speed internet to the small number of Colorado homes that have fiber optic lines running right into the house. Most cable customers have coaxial cable connections, however.

The cable industry has worked for years on its DOCSIS 3.1 technology standard that reaches gigabit or faster internet speeds using existing infrastructure. It only requires that customers get an upgraded cable modem in their home.

Comcast, after testing it in Chicago, Atlanta and Nashville this year, plans to roll out DOCSIS 3.1 to all its U.S. cable territories over the next few months.

The news comes shortly after CenturyLink Inc. (based in Monroe, Louisiana) announced it would purchase Broomfield-based Level 3 Communications for $25 billion in cash and stock.

Down in Wyoming, after being established during the 2016 legislative session, the Wyoming Bicycle and Pedestrian System Task Force has announced it would undertake a statewide study of bicycle, pedestrian, and natural pathways, in order to understand the potential economic impact further investment in said infrastructure might have.

According to the Wyoming Business Report, the Task Force has released a draft plan and is asking for public comment. As chairman Tim Young told the WBR, “The legislation requests the task force look at the economic, community and health benefits of biking and walking, in addition to the safety issues, funding opportunities and ways the state can assist local community efforts … To help develop the most useful report we can, we’d like to hear from as many people around Wyoming as we can.” From the WBR:

“We’re going to dig into details and provide recommendations, some of which may help our communities in planning and seeking funding,” Young said. “We’re going to be getting a better sense of the benefits of cycling and people-powered trail activities, which will help legislators see there are significant economic opportunities. It fits strongly with Wyoming’s goal of economic diversification.”

Among the potential economic benefits are established national routes like the Trans-America Trail, Great Divide Mountain Bike Route and the Medicine Bow Rail Trail. These routes crisscross the state and draw thousands of cyclists every year.

A Montana survey of cyclists showed these tourists spent an average of $76 a day and eight days in the state. Both figures are more than the average summer tourist in Montana, according to the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research study by the University of Montana. Many travel with much of their own gear, but because they move slower they tend to spend longer in each state they visit.

“Travel and tourism is already the number two industry in Wyoming, and the state is looking at how to enhance and diversify the economy, so this report could be instrumental in framing that conversation for the Legislature and identifying logical, cost-effective ways to improve our communities and take advantage of the benefits out there.”

Keeping with Wyoming, according to the Wyoming Business Report, after shuttering in December 2015, the future of Ponnequin wind farm (south of Cheyenne) is in limbo, as Xcel Energy determines what to do with the site:

“We currently are developing a decommissioning plan, and it is Xcel Energy’s intent to return the site to its original state, but other potential options may be explored in the process,” he said.

Ponnequin opened in 1998 and was projected to have a 15-year lifespan.

It is made up of both 650-kilowatt and 750-kilowatt turbines, and it produced 30 megawatts of electricity, Stutz said.

Stutz said the decision to end operations at the wind farm was due in large part to economics, with replacement parts difficult to find, making maintenance more difficult.

Further, Xcel Energy is moving forward with other, newer wind projects.

Stutz said more detailed plans for Ponnequin will be known next year.

The situation at Ponnequin is part of an evolving issue around the end of life for wind farms everywhere as the technology becomes more widespread.

Modern wind turbines are expected to last several decades or more, and many places now require wind farms to provide decommissioning plans.

In Wyoming, those decommissioning plans must include removal of the “turbines, towers, substations, buildings, cabling, electrical components, foundations to a depth of forty-eight (48) inches, and any other associated or ancillary equipment or structures within the facility boundary above and below ground,” according to rules administered by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.

Finally, over in Utah, South Jordan-based “workflow consultancy” firm TECHeGO has announced a collaboration with Campbell, California-based DreamFactory to create Hoist, “a new AI-enabled marketplace in the cloud.” According to Utah Business, Hoist promises to reinvent how people use/by (and how companies make) enterprise resource planning software:

Hoist is an ERP platform in the cloud that allows users to securely manage the services that will best increase their business efficiency, combining business extensions and user access with drag-and-drop ease and only paying for what they choose to use. The Hoist experience relies on DreamFactory’s automatically generated APIs to integrate disparate systems and data sources, and eliminate siloes.

Guiding Hoist is AVA, the TECHeGO artificial intelligence agent that makes Hoist a platform that learns. AVA enables Hoist to learn more every day with each new user, extension and connection, working with DreamFactory to automatically establish new connections, handles fixes and upgrades, and update and generate new APIs system-wide as required. Through AVA’s automation engine, users are able to leverage the connections made within the Hoist platform to automate connectivity and processes between platforms. The production of AVA was made possible through the core functionality of DreamFactory. TECHeGO is developing other products using the same connectivity and will be making them available in Hoist’s app marketplace in the coming months.

“The DreamFactory mission is to break down the barriers that keep companies and citizen developers from taking full advantage of the API Economy,” said Bill Appleton, CEO, DreamFactory Software. “Hoist is a great example of what’s possible when API automation is applied to push the boundaries of traditional development and enterprise software.”

In addition, both DreamFactory and Hoist are open source, allowing users to share personal extensions, scripts, and/or tools so other users can customize their experience.

About Sean Reichard

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