Colorado Springs Utilities will start a six-year, multi-million dollar project building a city-wide network of fiber internet infrastructure, allowing for internet service providers to deliver faster and better connections to residents and businesses.
The project, which will cost CSU between $45 and $100 million each year, will make Colorado Springs one of the country’s largest “gig-cities,” providing multi-gigabit fiber internet service to all utilities customers. Internet networks made of fiber provide the fastest and most reliable internet services available today, according to CSU, compared to cable networks, which are currently what many of the city’s neighborhoods rely on.
This modernization of the city’s internet infrastructure will attract new businesses and ensure that all residents have access to fast, reliable internet, said Brian Wortinger, fiber optic and telecommunication enterprise manager for CSU. Other U.S. cities that undertook similar projects have seen billions of dollars in new economic investment and benefits to education, Wortinger said during a Friday press conference announcing the project.
City Councilor Wayne Williams, an at-large representative, said the project will create more equity in internet access for families without reliable services in Colorado Springs by offering modern services for every address in the city. It will also greatly benefit the business community, he said.
“A best-in-class fiber network at this scale will present unique opportunities for residents and businesses alike, once the initial build out is complete,” Williams said. “It adds to our excellent reputation as a business-friendly city.”
Colorado Springs Utilities itself will not be providing the internet services, only the infrastructure to deliver it, said Aram Benyamin, chief executive officer. Instead, it has entered into a 25-year contract with an up-and-coming internet service provider, Ting Internet, to lease some of the new fiber network as it is built out, and will offer future leases to other internet service providers, Benyamin said.
CSU’s contract with Ting Internet will allow for quicker development of the network, which will start this year and is projected to be complete by 2028, Benyamin said. Wortinger said Ting’s lease and those of other internet service providers will offset construction costs of the project and no rate increases are expected to be passed on to utilities customers.
Ting Internet provides fiber internet services to more than a dozen other cities in the U.S., including Centennial, said Jill Szuchmacher, the company’s executive vice president. But Colorado Springs will be the company’s largest city so far, Szuchmacher said.
“This is a proven model that works in other communities,” she said. “We do what we do best, which is providing internet service, and the utility provides a really wonderful infrastructure platform that actually will do a lot for this community.”