Team Fishel Brings Wireless Internet to Rural Arizona

July 28, 2020

Team Fishel is an integral player in providing the necessary infrastructure to deliver high-speed internet throughout the country. While taken for granted in larger metropolitan areas, there are many locations still without access to broadband internet.

The resources and topography of rural Arizona lead to challenges in providing certain services – like broadband internet. With this becoming a growing issue nationally, the FCC created a program to provide access to broadband services in rural areas. In early 2019, Team Fishel was selected to partner with a major telecommunications provider in creating high-speed internet services in Northeast Arizona for schools and libraries in the Apache School District.

This project connected the towns of Show Low, Greer, Eager, St. Johns, Vernon, Concho, Springerville and McNary with more than 110 miles of cross-country fiber-optic cabling. The process of placing fiber is nothing new to our Teammates in Arizona, however, the geography and landscape of this region provided unique challenges. Rural Arizona is known for its high amount of volcanic rock, which during the course of the project certainly took its toll on our trucks’ tires.

While the terrain was a bit rocky, the views throughout the worksites were picturesque and teaming with wildlife. Within a 24-hour period, Teammates saw big horn sheep, elk, pronghorn antelope and mule deer! While the views were incredible, the area’s rivers and canyons were the significant reasons why residents were without access to high-speed internet.

By implementing modern drone technology, Team Fishel Teammates were able to stretch lines across a 1,500-foot-wide, 500-foot-deep canyon near the Little Colorado River.

According to Kwigs Bowen, the Area Manager overseeing this project, “In the old days we would have gone out there with a bow and arrow or a shotgun that shoots string, or we would throw ropes and have guys climb down in the canyon and get the ropes to the other side; it may have taken us a whole day to get a line across there.” By utilizing a drone, Teammates were able to navigate a line across the canyon in 90 seconds and then were set up to complete a 1,455-foot crossing of the Little Colorado River outside Greer with an ADSS 96 count fiber.

Drone technology allowed Team Fishel to save the project both substantial time and cost, which helped provide internet access to rural communities in Northeast Arizona sooner.  

Our Teammates know that projects such as this impact the end user – real people – in their everyday lives. Installing these fiber-optic cables gives broadband access to a population of students who have been challenged to connect to all types of online services. With the fiber in place, people throughout small towns in Arizona will have improved access to internet services, which will enhance various aspects of their lives.