A Google subsidiary wants to bring its fiber-based internet service to Colorado Springs next year if the company can strike a deal with Colorado Springs Utilities to lease its planned network.
Google Fiber, owned by Google parent Alphabet, would become the second tenant in the planned 2,000-Mile Network by the utilities, which is expected to start this summer and be available to its first residential customers early next year. Ting Internet became the first tenant when it signed a 25-year lease late last year, allowing utilities to accelerate construction from 15 years to six years and helping to offset some of the costs of annual construction of up to 100 million dollars.
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“We think the population there (Colorado Springs) has a strong demand for super-fast broadband service. We believe this is an environment where our service will be well received,” said Mark Strama, general manager of expansion for Google Fiber. “We want affordable high-speed Internet access and we believe that people will respond well to our offer. Colorado Springs Utilities accelerated the availability of high-speed Internet with this investment.
Brian Wortinger, director of the utility’s fiber optic and telecommunications business, said “several” internet service providers are interested in leasing part of the network, but he declined to say how many or how many. identify them. He expects leases from vendors like Ting and Google to offset a “significant portion,” if not fully offset, of the cost of building the network. The utilities plan to solicit bids later this week from contractors who would build the network.
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“We hope to reach an agreement with all interested parties” wishing to provide Internet service on the utility network, Wortinger said. “We will evaluate each of them to see what best serves the interests of customers. We would be happy to have as many as possible to reach a (lease) with because it reduces the cost of construction. The cost of building the network is substantial, but the cost of adding fiber for each tenant is much less.
Utilities has operated an in-house fiber network for 30 years and is expanding that network to help it monitor and better deliver water and power to its customers. The city-owned company has signed leases with Ting and other internet service providers to help pay construction costs and make high-speed internet service available to residential and business customers across the city. .
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Google Fiber has provided fiber-based Internet service in 12 cities in nine states since launching service in Kansas City, Missouri, and Provo, Utah a decade ago. The internet unit expanded to nine more cities in four years before slowing its expansion in 2016, and earlier this year added Des Moines, Iowa — its first new market in six years. The company also provides high-speed wireless Internet service to office buildings and apartment complexes in Denver and eight other cities in six states.
The company began considering expansion about a year ago after spending five years focusing on operations in the first 11 cities, Strama said. About a year ago, Google Fiber began looking at potential expansion sites, including Colorado Springs. He said the company plans to hire “dozens of people” in Colorado Springs to handle installation, repair, sales, service and other roles for local customers.
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Texas-based Highlight Infrastructure is building fiber optic networks in Colorado Springs and Fountain that will deliver download and upload speeds of up to 100 gigabits per second. The company hopes to connect its first customer in Colorado Springs by early May and begin construction of the Fountain network next week. Underline’s Colorado Springs system would be in direct competition with Colorado Springs Utilities.
Google Fiber charges $70 per month for 1 gigabit per second download and upload service and $100 per month for 2 gigabit per second service with no additional monthly charge for a modem. Enterprise rates are $100 for 1 gigabit per second service and $250 for 2 gigabit per second service. This fee is a bit lower than existing internet providers for similar service, but $5 more than Underline’s service cost.
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“By introducing competition to the market, customers will get better prices and faster (internet) speeds. This applies not only to our customers, but also to our competitors’ customers who will also get better prices and faster speeds,” Strama said.