What happened: Two main Taos internet companies have merged. Who merged: Brownrice Internet and TaosNet. What's the impact?: TaosNet customers should see improved …
What happened: Two main Taos internet companies have merged
Who merged: Brownrice Internet and TaosNet
What's the impact?: TaosNet customers should see improved bandwidth without higher costs
What's next?: Working with Kit Carson Technology to ensure internet can't be taken down by fire or other disasters
Two local technology companies that already share an office on Camino de la Merced are now sharing a boss who aims to bring more reliable internet service to hundreds of homes and businesses in Taos County.
Oban Lambie, owner of the internet hosting company Brownrice Internet, recently acquired TaosNet, an internet service provider.
Though the companies will remain independent enterprises, the acquisition means more collaboration between employees, more sharing of technology and more synergy in the internet game in Taos.
"Obviously, we've worked together for years," Lambie said about the two companies. The merger, he said, "allows us to be a little bigger and provide more services."
The acquisition of TaosNet by Brownrice Internet means more than new business cards. "We're upgrading the internal network across the board," said Lambie. Changes to Brownrice -- whose customers are mostly outside of Taos -- will be less dramatic, but TaosNet customers "will see pretty immediate changes," he said.
At the top of that list of improvements is a six-fold increase in bandwidth for customers of TaosNet, which delivers internet service wirelessly and mostly to areas that aren't served by Kit Carson's fiber network, he said.
Lambie said the improved service is coming without higher costs to the roughly 1,300 customers, all in an effort to keep the local internet provider competitive in a time when streaming any show or movie in HD is the expectation.
The merger, which was finalized at the end of May, also means wireless internet customers will "get a whole lot of Brownrice technology," like improved security features, Lambie said.
But Lambie touts cooperation beyond his two companies. He says the merger means a renewed relationship with Kit Carson Technology, the internet company responsible for bringing the fiber optic network to Taos County.
"We will continue to compete for customers, but behind the scenes, we should be working together ... so there are no more big outages in Taos," he said.
Kit Carson echoed that thought.
"Kit Carson and TaosNet will be partnering on all aspects of making high-speed broadband available to all the areas we serve," said Luis Reyes, CEO of Kit Carson.
"The first project is a joint project that will allow a [redundant] or backup path north so in the event we lose CenturyLink we will have a second redundant path and with fiber optic [there is ] plenty of capacity well into the future as broadband needs grow in our area. It will forge a relationship with the two premier local internet providers and assure no one will be left out of the broadband solution," Reyes said.
As a prime example of what this joint project means, Lambie quickly pointed to last summer's internet outage caused by wildfires that took out the "big pipes" that connect Taos with larger internet infrastructure.
"Last summer was a nightmare," he said. "Most of our internet goes out through one fiber [line] through Taos Canyon, up on the wires, and then out to Cimarron and on to I-25. If any of that gets cut, Taos is offline."
A fire in the summer of 2018 took out that main line. But the only backup line, which runs along Le Veta Pass in Colorado, was also destroyed by what became Colorado's largest wildfire.
"So when fire season starts, we get really nervous," Lambie said. "It's truly creating this fiber ring, so if any [internet service providers] go down ... we can take care of each other's traffic."
And when it comes to the power of local business, Lambie notes that because of Kit Carson's investment into the fiber network, and both companies' willingness to work together, both can bypass the "monopolistic [internet] providers," meaning fewer costs that have to be absorbed by customers and reliable internet service that "is just so much better."
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