It was one of telecom’s famous David and Goliath stories, and when it was over, the people in Fort Collins, Colorado, were ready to press on to invest in better connectivity for their community. That’s what they’re doing now and community leaders anticipate rolling out service as early as this summer.
Deep Pockets vs. Self-Determination
We shared the 2017 story about massive spending by large corporate ISPs in the Colorado town to prevent voters from approving a city charter amendment. Big incumbents wanted to prevent competition that might arise from public investment in high-quality Internet access and were willing to spend almost a million dollars to stop it.
Fortunately, people heading up grassroots efforts in Fort Collins had educated the public about the benefits of fiber, public ownership, and the risks of doing nothing. Voters supported the charter change and later Fort Collins residents and businesses went on to support the city’s efforts to develop a business plan for a municipal Internet access utility.
Fort Collins started construction of the estimated $80 million project, dubbed Connexion, and they are hoping to connect the first subscribers in August 2019. They anticipate completing the network in 2021. The city’s light and power department is working with the contractor hired to deploy the network; construction began in November.
In May, the city issued approximately $142.2 million in revenue bonds in order to fund construction, cover the needed capital costs, and get the service on its feet. Bonds sold out in two days.
The city released a promotional video to introduce the service to the Fort Collins public:
According to their 2017 model business plan, Connexion will likely offer symmetrical 50 Megabit per second (Mbps) for $50 per month and 1,000 Mbps (1 gigabit) for $70 per month to residents. Citywide service will connect approximately 62,000 households and 8,000 commercial premises. Potential subscriber interest looks promising for both business and residential premises, based on the many pins on the Connexion online map.
Like other municipalities that invest in their own network infrastructure, Fort Collins has expressed a commitment to network neutrality. In addition to promising personal privacy, the city has vowed to avoid paid prioritization and restrictions on access to any kind of content.
Read the Fort Collins Business Plan Executive Summary to learn more.
Working Together as One
In the recent State of the City Address, the theme was all about making strides by working in tandem to reach goals. A series of community leaders participated, including Colin Garfield, who was instrumental in driving the broadband project forward. Fort Collins celebrated their accomplishments and also recognized where they need to make improvements, noting that community-wide efforts are the most effective.
As part of the Address, people from all over the community gathered in different locations to view the official 2019 Fort Collins - State of the City video. Check out the segment that focuses on their broadband project:
"The mark of Fort Collins, which makes me optimistic, is that we can make an impact," said Mayor Wade Troxell.
Learn more about Fort Collins's grassroots organizing and fight to pursue a municipal network. Check out our coverage and listen to Community Broadband Bits Podcast episode 282, an interview with Colin Garfield and Glen Akins.
Photo credit VisitFortCollins.com