Springs, Fountain to see new fiber internet projects | News

Metronet will build a $130 million fiber Internet network in Colorado Springs, company and city officials announced March 31.

The Indiana-based fiber-optic telecommunications company will be third in the city to begin building fiber-optic internet infrastructure, which will give residents access to gig-speed internet.

In January, Colorado Springs Utilities announced a citywide project to build its own fiber network and lease excess capacity to private Internet service providers, and Underline Infrastructure Inc., a company that designs and builds open access fiber networks, began construction of its own in October 2021. †

What makes Metronet different from these projects is that the company is both the fiber infrastructure builder and the Internet service provider, or ISP, said Metronet CEO John Cinelli. Underline will provide residential and business customers with access to several ISPs through an online marketplace, and Springs Utilities will lease its infrastructure to a handful of ISPs, including Ting Internet, the “anchor tenant.”

Cinelli said Metronet’s structure eliminates some of the “gaps” that exist by having separate companies responsible for building the fiber network and providing Internet access to customers.

“We think this guarantees the quality of service,” said Cinelli. “If someone builds infrastructure and someone takes care of… [internet] services on top, there may be some gaps there. You can point the finger at us.”

Construction of Metronet will be funded entirely by private equity, including from investment firms Oak Hill Capital Partners and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Cinelli said at a Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC event to announce the project.

“We’re going to fully support this infrastructure on our dime,” Cinelli said.

Metronet has built fiber network infrastructure in about two and a half years in cities similar in size to the Springs, and expects the Springs project to follow a similar timeline, Cinelli said. It’s not exactly where Metronet will begin construction, but a company press release said construction will begin “in the coming weeks” and that a first group of residents will have access to Metronet internet by 2022.

Mayor John Suthers said the city is “so excited to add another technology company to our growing portfolio of Internet service providers.

“I would be remiss not to point out that Colorado Springs was chosen over other Colorado cities as the first home for Metronet in our state, and we’re very glad you did,” Suthers said.

Underline, which is currently building its fiber infrastructure in parts of Downtown and in the city of Fountain, announced on March 30 that construction on Fountain will begin this spring, after the company signed agreements with city officials. The Fountain project, which the city was looking to provide fiber Internet access to residents in 2020, will provide “real competition and choice” to customers, according to an Underline press release.

Underline will be available to all homes and businesses in the City of Fountain’s electrical service area, Mayor Sharon Thompson said in the release. The company has also designed a “highly efficient network” to provide connectivity for City Hall, other city buildings and Fountain’s Utility Operations Center, the release said.

“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 different from other offerings,” said Underline CEO Bob Thompson in the release.


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