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Colorado Springs, Colo., Stands to Gain ISP Choices Soon

Three fiber-optic network providers that will offer high-speed Internet in Colorado Springs have launched construction or are poised to begin as they race to capture customers in various parts of the region.

Aerial vew of Colorado Springs, Colo., at dusk.
Colorado Springs, Colo., at Dusk
Shutterstock/Jacob Boomsma
(TNS) — They're off and running.

Three fiber optic network providers that will offer high-speed internet service in Colorado Springs — Underline Infrastructure, MetroNet and Colorado Springs Utilities — have launched construction of their systems or are poised to begin as they race to capture residential and business customers in various parts of the city and Pikes Peak region.

Underline and MetroNet have made headway installing their infrastructure; some neighborhoods already have access to Underline's fiber connections. Springs Utilities, meanwhile, expects to start construction of its system this month.

The new players in the field of fiber connectivity bring 10 times the top internet speed of current providers — Comcast and Lumen Technologies' CenturyLink — in what Gary Bolton, CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association, previously told The Gazette is a "gold rush" in fiber network competition in Colorado Springs.

Here's a look at the progress of the area's new fiber optic providers:

Underline Infrastructure

In the heart of Colorado Springs, Underline opened its service to neighborhoods in what it calls its Phase 1 area, which is bounded roughly by Constitution Avenue on the north, Airport Road on the south, Academy Boulevard on the east and Interstate 25 on the west.

"We have already completed an underground distribution ring for backbone in the downtown area from which we can serve our ambitions in El Paso County," said company CEO Bob Thompson. "So that whole backbone is already done and finished."

With that key piece of its system completed, Underline now is providing service to residential, business and enterprise customers in its Phase 1 area, Thompson said.

Within that area, Underline is serving Catalyst Campus, the defense-oriented business park on downtown's east edge. Catalyst Campus' fiber connection, which is the first open-access 100-gig network in the state, is separate from Underline's public network to ensure cybersecurity for the government and private entities that utilize the campus.

Construction of the company's Phase 1 connectivity is set to be finished before the end of 2023, Thompson said.

Additional construction is underway in Fountain, south of the Springs; Underline will continue to build where there is demand, he said.

Underline customers can choose between three internet service providers on the company's fiber network: StratusIQ, Infowest and Adaptive Fiber.

"Because of the nature of our technology, on one set of capital efficient fiber, we're able to provide competition and service and choice to the whole spectrum of community need," Thompson said.

Underline's prices start at $49.99 a month for 500 megabits per second upload and download, with no contract.

Households that qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program, a federal benefit that lowers the monthly cost of phone or internet service, can get 500 megabits per second service at no cost, and 1/1 Gig for $35.

MetroNet

Farther north, MetroNet will begin service in neighborhoods near Woodmen Road, around Union Boulevard and Austin Bluffs Parkway. The first customers will receive service this winter, said Kris Smith, director of Government Affairs at MetroNet.

"We're expecting a two-year build, to build out our initial footprint in the majority of Colorado Springs," Smith told The Gazette.

Ten construction crews are working in northern Colorado Springs where the company began laying the groundwork in August for installing pipelines that will house fiber optic cables.

Crews will lay 500 feet worth of pipes per day, with the goal of 25,000 to 30,000 feet of fiber per month.

More construction is expected to continue in the area — including east of Powers Boulevard, north of the Air Force Academy, as far west as the Garden of the Gods park and as far south as South Academy Boulevard.

The project is expected to cost $130 million.

MetroNet offers 100 megabits per second upload and download speeds starting at $39.95 per month without a contract. MetroNet also is art of the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Colorado Springs Utilities

Construction will begin on Utilities' fiber optic network this month in northern Colorado Springs, north of Woodmen Road, roughly between I-25 and Union Boulevard, with some of Utilities' first customers to receive internet service in early 2023.

" Springs Utilities is modernizing its existing infrastructure to deliver utility services more efficiently and effectively — allowing us to better serve customers at a lower cost than if we did not install this network," said Kate Singh, Utilities senior public affairs specialist.

"For example," she said, "the fiber network will allow us to monitor in real time overhead transmission component temperatures to predict transformer failures before they occur, helping to reduce power outages and improve wildfire prevention."

Utilities' construction of 2,000 linear miles of fiber infrastructure is targeted for completion in 2028 and will cost $600 million.

Utilities has contracted with Ting, a Centennial internet service provider that will lease fiber space on the network; Ting's contract with Utilities will cover more than 98% of the project cost over 25 years, Singh said.

"A lease agreement with an ISP 'anchor tenant' significantly offsets these costs, and brings proven competencies in sales, marketing and customer provisioning and support to the network," according to Utilities' website. "This means we shouldn't need to seek funding through customer rate increases and that Colorado Springs residents and businesses will have access to a world-class internet experience."

Ting offers 1,000 megabits per second upload and download speeds for $89 per month.

© 2022 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.