Springs Sees $ 100 Million Blazing Fast Internet Project | First
Texas-based Underline Infrastructure Inc. is investing $ 100 million in Colorado Springs to build an open access network that will provide super-fast internet.
According to Underline, a company that designs, finances and builds open access fiber optic networks, the project will be the first open access network in the United States that provides customers with a choice of service providers and offers residential speeds of up to ‘at 10 gigabits per second. and 100 gigabits per second for businesses.
Underline will build, own and operate the network, which will be known as Underline: Colorado Springs. Underline will not provide internet service but will be a marketplace of service providers that will operate on shared infrastructure, allowing consumers to choose their ISP.
The project is privately funded by a consortium that includes Mears Group (an operating subsidiary of Quanta Services Inc.), Fujitsu, Duraline and other industry participants.
“We’re very focused on providing fast, reliable connectivity, where service and price really match,” said Underline CEO Bob Thompson. “This will result in a significant improvement in performance and cost savings for the small business community, and it will transform the experience of consumers with the Internet. “
Expanded bandwidth is the next thing the city needs to become as productive as possible, “especially since we’re doing it a lot more virtually and remotely,” said Mike Juran, CEO of software developer Altia and chairman. of the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC Board of Directors. “The bandwidth we have today is just not up to the task. “
Along with faster speeds, Underline: Colorado Springs is expected to play a key role in economic development.
“For our citizens and future citizens, and people who envision our region, having access to a robust fiber optic network at competitive rates is certainly a consideration, and becoming a greater
consideration because it becomes a more important part of our daily life, ”said Bob Cope, director of economic development for the city of Colorado Springs.
Emphasize is all about accessibility, Juran said.
“When you add access, not only for businesses, but also for individuals, students, people in underserved communities,… [you’re adding] a whole bunch of resources within the community that can contribute to the overall productivity of companies like Altia, ”Juran said.
“Underline aims to allow the same speed and access to everyone, and its pricing based on what the population can afford,” he said.
Many employees of Altia and Colorado Springs companies work remotely and have virtual meetings, he noted.
“We need them to have a very reliable and cost effective Internet to do this,” he said.
Fiber optic service also promises to deliver broadband service consistently.
“The productivity may not be directly proportional to the increase in bandwidth,” Juran said, “but it certainly helps. Each If you delete video streams, if you delete meetings and you have to restarting them is a huge blow to productivity. Multiply that by the Colorado Springs metro area, those minutes add up to hours, days, years, and all of that is damn critical. “
Network security will be important to Colorado Springs’ space, defense and cybersecurity industries, he said.
“These networks need to have the right technology, infrastructure, and hardware to support that,” Juran said, “and that’s a pretty big differentiator from a company like Underline.
“This is a great example of how the city, utilities, chamber and business are all working together to provide the services we need to attract great business and develop a great workforce.” , did he declare.
Fiber optic networks can transmit data at near the speed of light, which means faster load times, smoother streaming, and the ability to upload and download large files in seconds.
These networks also provide the capacity for services such as secure solutions for smart cities, distributed healthcare and wildfire detection.
The new network will be attractive to tech workers who can now work from home and plan to relocate to the east or west coasts, Juran said. The Colorado Springs area is already popular with young workers who want to enjoy an outdoor lifestyle.
“Having more high-speed service at an affordable price is a big part of attracting these types of workers to Colorado Springs,” he said.
Underline’s investment “is definitely an attraction and a benefit to economic development,” Cope said. “These are more and more of the fundamental assets you need to be able to go into business today. “
As the fiber network reaches existing businesses, “it will be good for their businesses and allow them to improve their business offerings,” he said.
Cope noted that some communities are struggling to make significant investments in expensive fiber optic infrastructure.
“It’s clearly an economic benefit for us,” he said. “It is difficult to say in which situation this will be the determining factor. But in some cases it will.
BUILDING THE NETWORK
Underline has been working with business leaders and local governments for almost two years to get the project started, Thompson said. Colorado Springs was chosen as Underline’s first project because of the city’s growth, business climate, and its reputation as the center of the cybersecurity industry.
In the first phase of the Underline: Colorado Springs project, the company will build approximately 225 miles of fiber infrastructure that will serve approximately 30,000 residential and commercial customers.
Primary construction will begin in the downtown business district and take about 12 months, Thompson said. But the initial distribution ring will be completed in about 12 weeks.
“We are going to be able to enlighten the first subscribers in November,” he said.
The facility in the downtown area will be underground, but as construction moves into residential neighborhoods, it will follow the grip of utilities.
“So if the utilities are overhead, usually in those lanes between streets, they’ll be overhead in those areas,” Thompson said.
The company will use fiber optic conduits that have already been deployed in some areas of the county and are working on agreements for this type of use, he said.
Thompson said Underline has already hired its first employees in Colorado Springs and will eventually fill up to 100 positions.
“We don’t buy our work trucks in Denver to drive them down,” he said. “We will be purchasing our vehicles locally in Springs.
Thompson said the company has developed partnerships with the National Cybersecurity Center – its first commercial client, and UCCS. He said he could not disclose “the direction of these partnerships except to say that the work lies at the intersection of modern networking technology and UCCS leadership, and the field of research on cybersecurity “.
Other partners and early clients include the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center, Altia, and Colorado Springs School District 11.
Three full-service ISPs – Adaptive Fiber, InfoWest, and Stratus IQ, have joined the market, along with Capcon Networks, a specialist commercial provider.
The majority of business entities in Colorado Springs, as in most communities, are small businesses,
“COVID has highlighted a whole bunch of challenges for this business community,” he said. “We therefore approach companies where we provide them with services and conductivity adapted to their needs, at a price that corresponds to their needs. “
For example, a micro-business such as a restaurant may not require much more use than a residence, but probably pays a lot more in business prices.
“So in our model, we match price and usage, and that will translate into a significant performance improvement and cost savings for your small business community.”
For microenterprises, the symmetrical 500 Mbps service will cost $ 79 per month. Pricing for small, medium and large businesses will depend on their specific needs for speeds up to 10 Gbps.
The service will be symmetrical: that is, the upload and download speeds are the same, said Eva Arevuo, head of communications and marketing at Underline.
“The vast majority of the existing infrastructure was not designed to support fast download speeds, so if you look at any of the offerings in place, they will only show you the download speed,” said Arevuo.
In line with the company’s social mission of bridging the “opportunity gap” between communities and households that lack internet service, Underline will offer 500/500 Mbps service to eligible households at a reduced price.
Underline research has shown that in Colorado Springs, nearly 10 percent of households do not have Internet access at home. In households with incomes of less than $ 35,000 per year, 22% do not have access.