The first open access 10 Gigabit network in the U.S. launches in Colorado Springs
As Colorado Springs continues to expand its public services, the city has forged a new partnership with Underline, the infrastructure company deploying open access community fiber networks. Underline has commenced construction of the nation’s first open access 10 gigabit network in Colorado Springs, dubbed Underline: Colorado Springs. Built at no upfront cost to the city or taxpayers, the network, Underline: Colorado Springs, will lay the foundation for remote work, remote learning, and continued business and job formation.
The network will deliver affordable, high-speed connections of 500/500 Mbps transfer speeds to residential subscribers for $49/month, symmetrical gigabit connection for $65/month, and symmetrical 10 gigabit connection for $295/month. Micro-enterprises will benefit from 500/500 Mbps service for $79/month and symmetrical gigabit service for $95/month.
The first phase of the project will serve approximately 24,000 homes and 4,000 businesses. Residents and businesses can get on the waiting list by registering here. The first 500 residents or business owners to express interest will receive a $25 gift card to spend at 100+ local businesses — putting $12,500 back into the local economy. In addition, Underline plans to hire dozens of people on a permanent local team.
Open Access Fiber Network in Colorado Springs
As an open access network, Underline: Colorado Springs provides internet connectivity through neutral infrastructure, but does not provide the service. Instead, Underline provides the infrastructure while third-party service providers (ISPs) make bids for customers. This also avoids higher costs to customers because service providers enter the market without having to build their own infrastructure. Underline’s Marketplace will be the central hub from which customers will be able to choose their ISP and access their service bill.
“Access to high-speed internet is a major factor as businesses grow locally or make plans to relocate into Colorado Springs,” said Dirk Draper, President & CEO, Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC. “The addition of the nation’s first truly open access 10 gigabit network is a significant asset to our region, allowing businesses to innovate while relying on this enhanced infrastructure in our community. We welcome Underline to Colorado Springs.”
Beyond increasing Colorado Springs’ residential service capacity, the network will support key innovators in the defense, aerospace, cybersecurity, and medtech industries. Notable early customers include National Cybersecurity Center (NCC), the new Space ISAC, and Altia. Additionally, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS), Colorado Springs School District 11 (D11), and NCC are on board as partners and collaborators.
Fiber networks provide near-infinite capacity for new service offerings, including secure smart city solutions such as distributed healthcare, traffic optimization, wildfire detection, responsible energy and grid solutions, and modernized, connected infrastructure. The partnership with Underline will ensure Colorado Springs’ competitiveness by providing ultra-fast, fiber-optic connectivity, especially as copper and cable networks become outdated.
In Colorado Springs, almost 10% of households have no home internet, and for households earning less than $35,000 annually, a full 22% have no access. Underline: Colorado Springs is looking to close the digital divide by offering affordable and reliable symmetrical gigabit connections to businesses and residents. Opportunity pricing will be available for qualifying households earning less than $35,000 a year. These households will receive the same 500/500 Mbps tier of service as other customers.
A Roadmap to a Smarter City
Key to the deployment of Underline: Colorado Springs is SmartCOS: the city’s smart city vision established in 2017 and 2018 in partnership between the City of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU). The roadmap emphasizes ways to improve the lives of citizens while driving economic development, and was recently recognized by StateTech as one of 8 Smart Cities to Watch in 2020 for its efforts to reduce waste and optimize services.
One of SmartCOS’ first initiatives was the smart streetlight pilot. In 2020, the city and CSU worked to install 50 smart streetlight controllers, allowing the city to remotely control and program LED streetlights based on time of night, season, or event while also monitoring real-time energy consumption. The pilot will allow better management of the city’s streetlight energy usage, reduce costs, and enable future SmartCOS solutions.
As Colorado Springs continues to expand its businesses, air quality has taken particular importance. As a proactive measure, ICF, a global consulting services company, was hired to develop an electric vehicle readiness plan. The plan will include a thorough assessment of Colorado Springs’ unique community needs and provide implementation options, such as public education and electric vehicle (EV) adoption incentives. The project will involve collaboration amongst numerous entities, including CSU, the Colorado Energy Office, local stakeholders, and community members.
One of the first steps to public adoption is the establishment of a knowledgeable EV outlet. In September 2021, Colorado Springs saw the opening of Phil Long EV Outlet — the first electric and hybrid dealership in southern Colorado and the second in the state. Rather than having knowledge on one specific make or model as most dealerships, Phil Long’s sales team educates customers about all the vehicles on the market. The dealership’s goal is to have around a million EVs on the road by 2030, consistent with the state’s plan to install fast charging stations throughout Tier I and II transportation corridors.