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We are Committed to Sustaining our Independent Way of Life and Economic Stability in a World of Instant Connection  
The importance of community and connectivity remain central themes in Aristata Communications’ story, and I am incredibly proud of the fact that when our rural communities band together and set our minds to something, we will achieve it.

Carlin Walsh, CEO of Aristata Communications. Courtesy photo.

Aristata Communications—formerly Colorado Central Telecom, and before that, Crestone Telecom—was born from community. The residents within the town of Crestone were cut off from knowledge and access to resources without a solid internet connection, so they banded together to bring broadband to town.

When service reached Methodist Mountain, an 11,713-foot peak along the Continental Divide, it became the catalyst for providing high-speed, reliable internet across the region. Over the years, service has expanded to reach underserved areas like Salida, Maysville, Chalk Creek Canyon, Twin Lakes, Cotopaxi, and Westcliffe in the Wet Mountain Valley.

Together, we were able to take important steps to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural America. Today, Aristata Communications provides internet and communications services to nearly 5,000 customers throughout five counties in the Central Rocky Mountains including Lake, Chaffee, Fremont, Custer, and Huerfano Counties.

I am forever grateful for the founding owner’s big, bold vision to bring internet to our region. However, the work that lies ahead is equally as big and will require just as much community support and capital to achieve the connectivity we will need to move beyond the 21st Century with relevancy and economic stability.

In order to sustain our independent way of life and in a world of virtual meetings, remote work, and what feels like online everything, reliable, fast internet is an essential household item, not a luxury. Today our nation sits at roughly 22 devices requiring internet per household including refrigerators, ovens, and your everyday washer/dryer.

It’s predicted by 2030, the average number of household items in need of internet connectivity will triple. Aristata Communications and our region must be able to support those capabilities as ingenuity quickly advances to avoid being left behind.

Along with our new name—which represents the Bristlecone Pine (Pinus aristata) known for the rocky and rugged terrain it thrives in while growing in communities, and our new brand—which ties us to our heritage and points toward progress—we have a bold, new vision statement written with resilient, rural Coloradans’ top-of-mind: We bridge the digital divide in the Central Rockies while transforming the relationships we have with our communities and customers to create a lasting, positive impact for generations ahead.

Just like the Rural Electrification Act under FDR’s Administration that sought to provide electricity to “every village, in every home, and on every farm in every part of the United States,” lasting impact can only be achieved when we connect every home, every ranch and every business to reliable, high-speed internet within our service area. It will require strategic infrastructure projects; it will require partnerships across counties, with local governments, and with other telecom and cable providers. It will require support from the communities and people we serve. And it will require access to funding sources.

The federal government and the State of Colorado both have realized the importance of providing broadband to underserved, rural areas. Through Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program, the feds are set to infuse nearly $43 billion—yes, that’s billion with a B—dollars into our nation solely focused on our areas like ours. That is more money than it took to electrify the entirety of our nation in the 1930’s calculated for inflation. Additionally, Governor Polis  signed an Executive Order mandating that 99 percent of Colorado homes be connected to high-speed, reliable internet by 2027.

In a region like ours that boasts 26 of Colorado’s 52 fourteen-thousand-foot peaks (14-ers), we know connecting 99 percent of the ranches, homes, basecamps and businesses will be no small undertaking. Some of Colorado’s most rugged and hard-to-access terrain can be found here; making it cost-prohibitive to provide fiber runs and internet towers with line-of-sight in many of the areas we serve. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to accomplish without a significant funding opportunity.

We sit at a pivotal time in our history where the politicians have recognized an extreme need and backed it up with funding sources. Aristata Communications is committed to engaging our community partners, moving ahead with strategic infrastructure projects, and continuing the important work of connecting our friends and neighbors in order to remain economically relevant, diversified, and strong beyond the 21st Century.

Not only is connectivity everything, but rural connectivity is also the key to our future.

By Carlin Walsh

Walsh is the owner and CEO of Aristata Communications. For Walsh, community comes first. He adds that it is a driving motivation for the work he does at Aristata and a core value passed down from his grandfather. To learn more about the locally owned telecom company rooted in community, visit