As a businessman and long-time Sandoval County resident, one of my top priorities for my family and our community is making sure that we do everything in our power to drive economic development and attract and grow businesses.

Access to reliable and high-speed internet has become one of the key drivers of business growth and economic development, which has only been made more important by the need to work and do business remotely during the pandemic.

With all of the funding opportunities to leverage federal dollars to invest in broadband infrastructure — as well as many businesses having resources to invest — the prudent choice is to prioritize investing in fiber-optic broadband technology everywhere it is feasible.

Fiber-optic broadband offers many advantages for businesses and entrepreneurs.

First, it is the fastest available broadband technology. Other options such as fixed wireless simply cannot offer gigabit speeds.

Second, fiber-optic broadband also offers symmetrical upload and download speeds. As businesses work together remotely or on video calls, this is absolutely essential to real-time communications between two or more parties.

Finally, fiber-optic broadband is less susceptible to performance deterioration due to usage, distance or climate conditions.

That means customers who live in the more rural areas of Sandoval County, who experience wind and inclement weather, and those who do much of their business online, will have reliable internet access.

And implementation of fiber optic broadband has considerably fewer outages.

It’s clear that fiber-optic broadband technology is superior to fixed wireless, copper and cable broadband.

Fiber optic broadband is faster, offers symmetrical speeds, works even in severe weather events and has a lower 30-year cost of ownership relative to other broadband technologies.

I worry that if we in Sandoval County choose instead to install fixed wireless, copper or cable instead of fiber-optic broadband, we will be choosing to settle. And I don’t want to settle.

Our community deserves the best technology to prepare us for the future.

I’m encouraged that this historic influx of state and federal dollars gives us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in fiber-optic broadband, which will help businesses thrive and foster economic development.

Over the coming weeks and months, Sandoval County commissioners as well as members of the New Mexico Office of Broadband will make important decisions about investing in New Mexico’s broadband infrastructure.

That’s because the American Rescue Plan includes billions of dollars in new spending earmarked for rural broadband expansion.

An investment in fiber optic broadband will support our local businesses and entrepreneurs with internet speeds 40 times the current standard.

We have to seize this opportunity to really invest in this critical infrastructure.

I’m hoping you’ll join me in urging our Sandoval County commissioners to prioritize investing in fiber broadband as they determine future investments in our internet infrastructure.

David Smoak