On August 29th, people in Fort Collins, Colorado, gathered together at the city’s Lincoln Center to celebrate the launch of Connexion, their municipal fiber optic network.
Prior to the get together, the utility announced pricing and services for residential subscribers. Symmetrical gigabit Internet access will be available for $59.95 per month; residents will also have the option to sign-up for 10 gigabit speeds for $299.95 per month.
Business rates are still in the works.
Connexion is also offering bundles that include voice and video. While they’re still developing details on video service, subscribers can choose a voice and Internet access package at this early stage. The utility will not impose data caps and, as expected, there are no contracts.
Connexion has expressed their commitment to network neutrality, a policy that helped drive the local comunity to develop the municipal network.
The event was especially glorious to folks involved in the 2017 vote to change the city’s charter. At the time, big corporate ISPs dedicated close to a million dollars toward influencing the vote to prevent the amendment. Measure 2B was on the ballot to update the city’s authority to invest in a publicly owned network. With a de facto duopoly on Internet access in Fort Collins, incumbents wanted to halt any change, but the measure succeeded and the initiative moved forward.
Learn more about how a group of grassroots organizers was able to defeat Comcast and friends in episode 282 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. We spoke with Glen Akins and Colin Garfield, two residents that worked tirelessly to lead the initiative.
Looking to the Future
Now that Connexion is a reality, so is the city’s plan for deployment. They intend to have the network deployed throughout the entore city by 2022, connecting 62,000 households and 8,000 businesses. Fort Collins issued approximately $143 million in revenue bonds to fund the build.
Experts have estimated that operating income for the network will become positive in the third year, once the network is complete and the investment will be paid off in fourteen years. They’ve based calculations on a 28 percent take rate.
Fort Collins has Chattanooga veteran Coleman Keane heading up their publicly owned network as its executive director. He told the Coloradoan in a 2018 interview that he believes Connexion has a strong chance of providing the service the community wants and meeting Fort Collins's goals.
The city officials who laid the groundwork for Connexion put a lot of thought into it, Keane said. He wouldn’t have signed on if he weren't confident the program would be a success. And that goes for the forward-facing aspect, too: customer service.
With complaints about incumbent ISPs a sore spot with many Fort Collins residents, Keane has honed in on the fact that potential subscribers value positive interaction from their utility providers.
“Customer service is the biggest thing that could differentiate us and Fort Collins has a great brand already as a city for customer service and we plan on extending that.”
Residents in Fort Collins can expect to see notices on their front doors and on social media when the network is ready to connect premises in their neighborhoods.
Watch the the launch party livestream video to learn more: