Underline continues installation of fiber, eyeing end of year for some Fountain homes to access it
Last updated 8/10/2022 at 10:55am | View PDF
Local residents have been seeking updates on the status of Underline's project in the city of Fountain, which the company has said will "bring ultra-fast internet at affordable prices, built in a socially equitable manner... This connectivity is essential for virtual schooling, remote work and new business formation."
Underline states the shared infrastructure will be a new model for communities and service providers, explaining "in the open access model, neutral network infrastructure can be shared by multiple service providers." Fountain will be the second city to receive this new service, following Colorado Springs.
You may remember seeing photos in this paper in April after Underline began its project earlier this year, and Eva Arevuo, head of Marketing and Communications for Underline, said they have been in active construction since then. (Photos provided for this story show crews working in the north Security area near Main Street and Leta Drive, installing the fiber to bring this service south to Fountain. Arevuo explained the crews in the photos were working in Security on the backhaul from Colorado Springs, just for the day.)
"We have put in 100 miles of fiber from Colorado Springs to Fountain, and when completed we will have installed fiber through the entire length of the city, our crews are out there doing this," Arevuo said. She explained Underline construction has been done all the way down the west side of Fountain. Underline expects to connect the first residence in the first neighborhood in Fountain by the end of this year.
She said the Fountain service area includes all of the City of Fountain, and about half of Security and Widefield, but not all.
Arevuo shared that interested residents and businesses in the city can go to the website at underline.com/fountain to sign up and indicate interest in the service, which could help direct what area will be served first (where there is higher demand.) She said Underline will be measuring/mapping areas based on these demands.
She also said that it will be close to the end of the year for City of Fountain Utilities, which will be one of its largest customers, to be connected to the network as well.
"Over the course of next year, we plan to reach every home in the city," she said. "We are super excited about this and our crews are working away to make this happen."
She said when the first neighborhood to receive service has been selected, residents in that area will be notified.
The project's history: (excerpts from the website at underline.com/fountain)
In 2020, the city of Fountain started looking for a provider to deploy a community-wide broadband network. Underline answered the call and proposed an open access fiber network to provide gigabit+ connections to residents and businesses, as well as service to the City of Fountain.
With a series of agreements in place, constructed started at the end of March 2022.
This will be the second open access network in the U.S. to deliver true competition and choice, following the project in Colorado Springs where construction is well underway.
Residents and businesses can learn more and secure their spot now: underline.com/fountain
• In addition to ultra-fast and affordable connections for homes and businesses, this project specifically highlights the power of our open access networks to provide private, secure connections for municipal utilities; with our second market, we're proving what's possible with a model so distinct from other offerings.
• Fountain's new network will be the necessary foundation for remote working and learning, continued business and job formation, and opportunity and upward mobility for families.
For residential subscribers, the 500/500 Mbps connection will be available for $49/month, the symmetrical gigabit connection will cost $65/month, and the symmetrical 10 gigabit option will be available for $295/month. In addition, in an important reflection of the company's mission, Underline's Opportunity Program will provide 500/500 Mbps at no cost for households that qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program.
Micro-enterprises will benefit from 500/500 Mbps service for $79 /month and symmetrical gigabit service for $95 /month. Pricing for small, medium, and enterprise business customers will be dependent on specific needs with speeds up to 100 gigabits. All network members can select from a number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) on a dynamic, competitive marketplace. The first three full-service ISPs on the marketplace are Adaptive Fiber, InfoWest, and StratusIQ. A speciality business provider, Capcon Networks, has also joined.
In addition, working collaboratively with the team from City of Fountain led by Lisa Godwin, Technology Services Director, we developed a highly efficient network design providing connectivity to City Hall and various other City buildings including the Utility Operations Center. With the combination of this connectivity design and a proprietary network user interface, Underline can provide secure Layer 2 connectivity solutions to the City.
Also from Underline's website:
What are people saying?
Fountain Mayor, Sharon Thompson:
"Fountain City Council is very pleased to announce that the city has signed agreements with Underline to make broadband service available to all homes and businesses in the City of Fountain and the City's electric service area, This deployment of improved broadband across our community will be the culmination of several years of work by the city and will complete a major Strategic Objective set by Council in 2019. This is a great day for the community of Fountain!"
City of Fountain's Economic Development Commission Chairman, Harville Small:
"The momentum by City of Fountain Mayor and Council on behalf of the Broadband initiative will avail small, medium, and large businesses to compete equitably in the market, to accelerate business growth for the municipality, and to bring new services into the community. The Economic Development Commission is a partner in providing outreach and advocacy with the awarded broadband service provider, Underline El Paso LLC, to bridge awareness and to generate economic vitality within our community."