On Nov. 7, Fort Collins will have the opportunity to vote on the installation of fiber-optic internet services into the city. Currently, neighboring Longmont is rated as having the fastest internet provider among U.S. cities. A branch of its power and communications utility, the service known as Nextlight, utilizes fiber optics to provide speeds of up to 1 gigabit per seconds for downloads and uploads.
Broadband is available in four different forms:
DSL or Digital Subscriber Line utilizes unused telephone wires to provide internet service.
Cable, is provided by local cable TV. The connection speed varies with the number of users on the service at a specific point in time. The more users, the slower the speed.
Satellite is the slowest broadband service but a good replacement for dial-ups for those living in remote areas such as Red Feather Lakes, Glacier View Meadows or anywhere in Rist Canyon. Installation rates are high but the ongoing monthly charges are competitive with DSL and Cable.
Fiber-Optic is the newest and fastest of the Broadband options. These optical fibers are long, thin strands of very pure glass about the diameter of a human hair. They are arranged in bundles called optical cables and used to transmit light signals over long distances.
Service areas are limited because the laying of fiber-optic cables can be a massive project for a city the size of Fort Collins and it is far easier to get fiber-optic services to the outlying communities than to wait for an entire city to catch up with the need. Also, as the technology advances, a project as large as this could be out of date by the time it’s completed. However, the need for faster communication can only continue to grow as businesses and industries invent more effective and creative means to market their products and services.
The Fort Collins plan is to offer 1 gigabit per second with a target price of $70 per month, Customers could get 50 megabit per second speed for $50 per month. Fort Collins Light and Power is a candidate for the broadband business.
Should the city choose to move ahead with the project, it would be paid through the issue of $150 million in bonds, the bonds being repaid with revenue from broadband customers.
Even if voters approve the plan, it would not require the City Council to immediately begin the process of laying down fiber optics. The continuing evolution of communication technology will require intensive and thorough study before the entire city can be brought up to date. However, the need for faster communication can only continue to grow as businesses and industries invent more effective and creative means to market their products and services. Fort Collins had better get the ball rolling.