STRATA Connects Communities

Justin Hansen describes growing up in the Uintah Basin, riding four-wheelers and snowmobiling with his dad, like living in a Norman Rockwell painting. But he also grew up with a passion for information technology and computers.

“I was the 12-year-old kid taking WordPerfect classes instead of playing baseball or football,” he said.

Hansen graduated in 1996 and left his hometown to pursue his dream job because there were very few local technology jobs available.

Many Americans, including Hansen, share the dream of living wherever they want while still having access to the rest of the world. That dream is one of the reasons STRATA Networks was founded as a cooperative over 65 years ago. STRATA’s commitment to connecting communities is still prevalent in everything it does today.

Based in Roosevelt, Utah, STRATA is a forward-thinking telecommunications company, continually expanding services and technology for its customers like Justin Hansen, who want to live and work in remote areas without sacrificing a career they love.

After living in a large city, Hansen hoped to return and raise his family in the idyllic setting he experienced as a kid. Fiber-optic internet from STRATA made that possible.

“If it weren’t for the availability of gig fiber that I have to my house, moving back to the Basin wouldn’t have even been a choice,” Hansen said.

Recognizing that many people like Hansen would come back to the Uintah Basin if the workforce infrastructure they needed was there, Vernal City and Uintah County built an innovative coworking space leveraging STRATA’s fiber network. STRATA committed to providing the gigabit internet connection for the facility so that new doors will open for other residents like Hansen who want to come home.

Due to the rugged landscape and rural setting of the Uintah Basin, infrastructure costs pose significant financial barriers to delivering service to these areas. STRATA worked diligently to secure additional funding to bring internet services to even its most remote customers and received a $23.6 million loan-grant combination from the U.S. Department of Agriculture ReConnect Program.

These funds will help STRATA build the necessary infrastructure to deliver fiber internet to more than 3,000 of the most remote households, farms, businesses, and critical community facilities spread over 400 square miles in Duchesne and Uintah Counties. STRATA already has nearly 10,000 fiber locations with a goal to build more than 1,000 additional locations each year.

Continuing its commitment to bring service to the most remote parts of the region, STRATA partnered with the Utah Education & Telehealth Network (UETN), the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), and Daggett School District to complete an extensive 68-mile fiber-optic project to connect schools and health clinics within Daggett County. With roughly 40% of the route in rocky or solid rock conditions, this project was a massive, two-year engineering feat.

“Access to high-speed internet has transformed from being a convenience to a necessity — especially in education and healthcare,” said STRATA Networks CEO and general manager Bruce Todd. “We are proud of the partnership that STRATA and UETN have formed to make fiber internet accessible to even the most remote areas in our region, and we look forward to seeing the community and economic development that will come from it.”

STRATA’s commitment to keeping the community connected was more evident than ever when schools and businesses were closed due to COVID-19. During this time, STRATA pledged free internet to all new customers who had a student or educator in their home.

They also offered free speed upgrades for current customers where possible and established several free community WiFi hotspots. STRATA waived late fees and pledged not to terminate any customer because of their inability to pay due to the pandemic, and provided internet access to students who qualified for the CARES Act through local school district grant funding.

“Utah leads the nation in internet availability with some of the best broadband speeds in our rural counties,” said Rebecca Dilg, rural outreach manager at the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “The work STRATA does to bring broadband to rural Utah is representative of our many Utah broadband providers.”

GOED works with broadband providers, policymakers, consumers, community institutions, and other stakeholders to support broadband deployment throughout the state, improve efficiencies, and expand statewide access and adoption.

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