ALAN Wehe is standing in the back of the room Thursday when he notices something amiss about the soon-to-start ribbon cutting to recognize the town of Manassa as Colorado’s first multi-gig community in Colorado.
Rick Garcia, executive director of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, who is also on hand, calls the announcement “A big deal day, for sure.”
But the founder of Jade Communications has something else on his mind before the “big deal” event begins. Boxes of doughnuts sit on a table untouched. Can’t have that, he thinks, and begins to personally offer doughnuts to the gymnasium-filled crowd, working the room to make sure everyone has a chance at a treat.
His instinct to pass out the doughnuts stems from a personal ethos he follows and preaches, which is: “I’m from the San Luis Valley. I live here. You’re my neighbor and we have to take care of each other.”
Josh Wehe talks to the crowd at the event.
JADE Communications, which Wehe started 31 years ago, operates in this manner. His sons, Josh Wehe and Jordan Wehe, now run the company.
“Each one of us has a specialty,” Wehe said. “We know what our specialty is, and if I can serve you better and you can offer your specialty better, and if we can all serve each other better, we’ll have a better place to live. That’s the whole underlying thing.”
Jade’s speciality now is setting up Manassa with the fastest internet in the Valley thanks to a “mesh technology environment”: in its simplest description, a “meshed network” is created through direct links between devices.
“It’s really resilient in its design,” said Josh Wehe, Jade’s director of operations. “Most networks are designed with one cable in, one cable out. One box in that talks to all the boxes down the street.
“If those boxes fail, your wifi goes out. What we created here in Manassa, we created multiple inputs, multiple outputs. Basically there’s more than one feed coming in so that if one of those feeds fails, the network is resilient and it’s not impacted at all.”
Manassa Town Board member Megan Martinez said one of the appeals of Jade’s “mesh technology” broadband is that it doesn’t require streets to be torn up to lay fiber optic cable or cable to be run from a pole to a home.
Instead, Jade installs a device box on your rooftop, which then picks up similar devices on neighboring houses to create the mesh environment.
“I like it. It has really made a difference,” Martinez said of the technology Jade is
installing. During COVID, she said, her household had trouble accessing the internet at the same time. Now, she said, “my kids can do their video games, watch a movie at the same time, and I can work, where I was not able to before.”
Garcia credited Jade for being the first to use a mesh environment, and prove its reliability for rural communities like Manassa. “This technology should continue to be explored as a solution to all rural broadband accessibility and reliability in the future,” he said.
“I think we’re going to see more of this mesh technology utilization in the near future. Not just in communities here in the San Luis Valley, but other mountain communities that still struggle to get reliable, high speed internet which is an essential tool for your education, economic development, and even for ranch and farming and the high tech equipment used today.”
Alan Wehe agrees.
“Technology is the greatest thing,” he said. “We have to continue to find the newest technology and continue to move.”
The event ends. All the doughnuts are gone.
To read more about the technology and the work Jade is doing in Manassa, here is our earlier story with Josh Wehe and Jordan Wehe.