Tribal communication tower going on Rattlesnake Hill

For the past several years, various units of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe have been trying to develop wireless communications services using a radio tower above Ignacio.

These services include offering wireless Internet of speeds up to 20 megabits per second (mbps) to tribal members, providing data connections from remote tribal government buildings to the main Permanent Fund campus, connecting business units of the tribe to each other, “backhauling” data traffic between Ignacio and Durango where communication service providers have their facilities, providing access for regional Internet service providers to the Ignacio market, and extending the range of emergency radio communications.

Using a communication tower to perform these functions is more cost-effective than disturbing the earth to lay cable. It allows the tribe to better control its communication infrastructure and is often easier to maintain.

Initially, a team of stakeholders from the Permanent Fund, the Growth Fund and Southern Ute Shared Services identified the KSUT radio tower on Ignacio Peak as a potential place for wireless equipment. But because of the size of the 30-year-old tower relative to all equipment the stakeholders needed to attach to it, the team sought an alternative location.

An excellent location became available when the water tank was removed from Rattlesnake Hill last fall.  Since that time, the team has been working to put a communication tower on top of the hill. The 100-foot height of the tower will reach the tribal government and business buildings that need to connect in Ignacio, connect Ignacio buildings to some of the outlying areas, and reach 73 percent of the tribal members who might want wireless Internet.

The team is completing the approval process and is looking to complete construction before the first winter snows.  Services on the tower are expected to roll out throughout 2014.

If you have and any comments or questions about this project, please call me at 970-563-0100, ext. 2491 or send an email to

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