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Broadband Strategic Plan

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Frequently Asked Questions

General

What is Fort Collins Connexion?

Fort Collins Connexion is the new community-owned fiber network. Fort Collins Connexion will bring high-speed internet, advanced video, and telephone services to the residents and businesses of Fort Collins.

What is broadband?

Broadband is a high-speed communications network that can support many different communication services.  This term is commonly used to describe different types of internet services delivered at speeds significantly faster than those available through “dial-up”. The Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Plan now defines broadband service as providing a minimum of 25-megabit (mbps) download speeds and 3 mbps upload speeds.

What is the difference between broadband and internet?

Broadband is the communication network. The term broadband commonly refers to high-speed internet access that is always on and faster than the traditional dial-up access.

What is fiber?

Fiber to the home (FTTH), also called "fiber to the premises" (FTTP), is the installation and use of optical fiber from a central point directly to individual buildings such as residences, apartment buildings and businesses to provide unprecedented high-speed internet access. Fiber is more cost-effective, eco-friendly, provides virtually unlimited bandwidth and is more reliable, requiring less maintenance once it is constructed.

What is optical fiber?

Optical fiber is a hair-thin strand of glass, specially transmit light pulses. The fiber uses light instead of electricity to carry a signal. It is unique because it can carry high bandwidth signals over long distances without signal degradation, and it can provide those signals simultaneously in both directions – uploading and downloading broadband.

What is bandwidth?

Bandwidth is the capacity of a wired or wireless network communications link to transmit the maximum amount of data from one point to another over a computer network or internet connection in a given amount of time -- usually one second. Bandwidth is not a measure of network speed -- a common misconception.

What is a community fiber network?

A Community Fiber Network is a community-owned broadband network that uses fiber-optic cables to connect all subscribers. It can offer phone, television, and internet access and other broadband services.

What is DSL?

DSL, also known as Digital Subscriber Line, is high-speed internet access that uses existing copper telephone lines from homes and businesses to transmit data. DSL speeds can range significantly, and performance decreases significantly the farther away the DSL subscriber is to the closest telephone provider connection.

What is cable Internet?

Cable internet uses the existing coax lines for your cable TV to get a high-speed internet connection.  Coaxial cable is a shielded copper cable used to transmit video, audio and other forms of data. The copper wires lead from your property to a neighborhood node, and eventually to your service provider. Speed and performance are dependent on the subscriber’s modem, available bandwidth and the amount of traffic on the network.

When will service be available?

First lit service is scheduled for Q3 2019, with a full build out to the city limits within 36 - 48 months.  

Why fiber? Why now?

The City recognizes that a fiber-connected city created advantages over a disconnected city.  With the growing importance of high speed internet within the economy, to support the needs of our community and local businesses as well as improve our citizen’s daily lives, securing gigabit-speed internet across the City’s growth management area (GMA) is crucial.

Why is fiber optic cable now being connected directly to homes?

Connecting homes directly to fiber optic cable enables enormous improvements in the bandwidth that can be provided to consumers. While cable and DSL providers are struggling to squeeze small increments of higher bandwidth out of their technologies, ongoing improvements in fiber optic equipment are constantly increasing available bandwidth without having the change the fiber. That’s why fiber networks are said to be “future proof.”

DOCSIS 3.1, isn't that as good as fiber?

DOCSIS 3 is a standard for cable modem networks that will greatly increase the available speeds offered by cable companies. However, the cable network remains a massively shared loop, leaving it vulnerable to a few subscribers consuming more bandwidth and degrading service for everyone else. 

What is gigabit internet?

Gigabit internet means that 1,000,000,000 bits of data is transferred through fiber optic cables in one second. Fort Collins Connexion (1 gigabit internet) is roughly 85x faster than average DSL speeds. Note: Speed comparison based on maximum download speed of Connexion service (1 Gbps) vs. average DSL speed of major U.S. DSL providers (< 11 Mbps) per 2016 Measuring Broadband America – Fixed Broadband Report.

What’s the difference between a megabit and gigabit?

If your current internet speed is 10 Mbps (megabits per second), Fort Collins Connexion offers up to 100 times that (1 Gbps). With all those extra megabits, you can download a video game in less than a minute, download 100 songs within 3 seconds, 1,000 photos in 16 seconds or a 2-hour movie in 8 seconds!

What can I do with gigabit speeds?

All that data — a million bits per second — means that you can do everything you already do online, but a lot more of it, and faster. All of your usual web browsing, and streaming will be supported, but with higher speeds and less congestion on your home network. Fort Collins Connexion’s 1 Gig speed provides enough bandwidth for everyone in your home, and all your devices!

What can you do with that much bandwidth?
  • Stream videos, movies, and TV shows, even when your entire family is watching on different devices at once. With a gigabit connection, you can stream high-definition (HD) and 4K video content at amazing speeds with little to no delays or buffering. This means less time waiting and more time enjoying your favorite shows and movies.

  • Enjoy a better online experience for multiple users and devices connected to your network.  Typically as more devices (smartphones, TVs, gaming systems, computers, tablets, and so on) sign onto your network using your bandwidth, each user's speed decreases. However, with Fort Collins Connexion this is not a concern because our speeds are much faster. 

  • Download and upload files, photos, and videos at incredible speeds. Regardless of the size of the file, with a Gig speed connection, your download and upload times are reduced down from minutes and hours to seconds.  

  • Play games. Online gaming continues to grow in popularity, and new games with high-quality video content require fast, stable connections, with low latency. With 1 Gig speed from Connexion, you can play online games seamlessly. 

  • Video conferencing. Facetime, Skype, and other video conferencing services use bandwidth on your internet connection. Without sufficient speeds, video quality is poor, and users can experience frequent disconnects or frozen pictures. With 1 Gig service, these types of problems are no longer an issue, even if your video conference has multiple people connected at once. 
What is the difference between a symmetric and asymmetric connection?

Symmetric connections have the same downstream speeds as upstream. This means that you can send a file to someone else just as fast as you could get it from them. Asymmetric connections tend to offer much slower upload speeds, which can slow usage of the modern internet to a crawl. Both cable and DSL networks are typically asymmetrical by design.

Why is high-speed broadband important to Fort Collins?

Internet applications are using more and more broadband capacity every day as more information, education and entertainment content is enabled online. Smart Homes equipped with lighting, heating, and electronic devices that can be controlled remotely by phone or computer are increasing in popularity, and emerging trends such as IT automation, machine learning and the internet of things (IoT) are driving smart city adoption.  

The citizens of Fort Collins should have access to everything the internet has to offer, without being restricted by their local broadband services. Fort Collins Connexion will support citizens’ needs to run their local businesses, ensure their children have the best opportunities to learn through technology and access the wealth of information and entertainment options that the internet provides. 

Why did the City finance the full $140M for Connexion up front, rather than in phases?

As a risk mitigation strategy, City staff discussed doing multiple bond placements over time with both our underwriters and bond counsel.  A partial, sequential financing over three years was not an available option in the public finance industry for a project of this type. Each bond issuance is its own freestanding transaction that is evaluated by investors, rating agencies, and others for its own risks. Borrowing a partial amount in year 1 means that investors have no guarantee that the entire Broadband system will be built out because they have no guarantee that the City can or will issue the rest of the necessary debt in year 2 and year 3. In other words, bondholders will not risk investing in a utility that only gets partially built and thus may not be able to repay its debt. Instead, they will only invest in a project with a clear path to being fully built.

How will having high-speed broadband impact the community?

Access to next-generation high-speed broadband increases development opportunities, improves the performance and cost effectiveness of business services, provides better support for the emerging “creative class,” supports school technology programs, allows those that can work from anywhere more options, and generally enhances the community as a center of innovation.

What else would fiber provide us?

Next generation high-speed broadband is about more than downloading movies and streaming Netflix shows. A fiber network provides the city with a competitive advantage when it comes to offering businesses and entrepreneurs a platform to work on that won’t “crash” or “slow down.” While current internet needs may be met for some, the internet of tomorrow, often called the “internet of things,” will need more speed and reliability for uses that have yet to be invented. 

What are the implications to the Utilities Department in terms of debt and staffing with this project and bond?

Debt requirements will be in the range of $130M-$150M depending on the final architecture and subscriber adoption. Expenses funded from the debt include: engineering and design, network construction, network electronics, bond issuance fees, capitalized interest, facilities and equipment and working capital. The largest cost component of the capital requirement will be the network construction, currently estimated at more than $80M. Details are on page 31 of the Broadband Business Plan.  The business plan calls for additional staffing for this project as outlined on page 39 of the Broadband Business Plan.

Will the City offer video as part of the broadband package?

Yes. In addition to high-speed internet and digital phone, Fort Collins Connexion will offer video service. 

Am I included in the GMA?

Under the current business plan broadband would extend throughout the current City limits and will extend into the GMA when those areas are annexed.  Current capital spending estimates are for the City limits only.

What is a public right-of-way?

Right-of-Way (ROW) is the city-owned strip of land from the edge of the street back about 3 to 10 feet. Its purpose is to allow the city to build and maintain the street, curb and gutter, storm sewers and possibly underground utilities. This land is the responsibility of the landowner but the city has the right to determine what takes place there. A right-of-way may include curbs, sidewalks, and utilities. Since the depth of a ROW varies from location to location, a survey needs to be conducted or property records reviewed to determine the exact dimension of any given right-of-way.

Why are there flags in my yard?

The reason flags have appeared in your yard is because Connexion crews are planning to do work. Engineers request to have utilities marked out so that they can design our new fiber-optic network around them. It's critical to ensure any work done does not negatively impact light & power, water, stormwater or natural gas lines. This practice is often referred to as Subsurface Utility Engineering. If you happen to notice that these flags have shown up in your entire neighborhood, this is likely the case. Please keep in mind that the flags may be there a few weeks prior to work actually being done. 

Why did I receive a construction door hanger?

As a courtesy, Connexion crews along with Atlantic Engineering Group (AEG) are placing door hangers on all homes in a neighborhood 48 hours in advance of doing any work. The door hanger includes a dedicated phone number, (970) 674-7800, that homeowners can call with any questions or concerns.  

My lawn was affected - what do I do?

Connexion crews along with Atlantic Engineering Group (AEG) may have to dig in the public right-of-way which abuts your property.  If digging occurs, crews are required to restore the affected area. This may include seeding or laying fresh sod.  Additionally, crews will leave a Lawn Restoration door hanger with instructions on how to care for the affected area, along with a dedicated phone number, (970)674-7800. If you have questions or concerns, please call this number to speak with a project manager.  

Why are crews digging in my yard?

Connexion crews are working to install conduit for our new fiber network in the existing public right-of-way. 

  • A Right-of-Way (ROW) is the city-owned strip of land from the edge of the street back about 3 to 10 feet.
  • Its purpose is to allow the city to build and maintain the street, curb and gutter, storm sewers and possibly underground utilities.
  • This land is the responsibility of the landowner but the city has the right to determine what takes place there. A right-of-way may include curbs, sidewalks, and utilities.
  • Since the depth of a ROW varies from location to location, a survey needs to be conducted or property records reviewed to determine the exact dimension of any given right-of-way

If you have questions or concerns about the work being done in the right-of-way, please call 970-674-7800.

Privacy

What is the City’s Privacy Policy?

As a current Utility provider, the City takes privacy very seriously and this commitment would be extended to broadband. Personal information, also known as personally identifiable information (PII) or sensitive personal information (SPI), will not be used beyond what is required to provide service.

Will the City track or sell my information?

The City has no need, desire, or intent to collect, share or sell customer personal information including browser history. Ensuring customer privacy is a City priority and is critical to maintaining customer confidence.

Net Neutrality is becoming a big deal nationwide. What is the City’s position on Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality is the principle where services are not blocked, slowed down, sped up, or otherwise manipulated based on who is accessing the internet or from where. The City of Fort Collins is committed to the principles of Net Neutrality. Fort Collins Connexion will not call for any restrictions on access including uploads, downloads, delivery methods or providers (email, Skype, Netflix, etc.)

How will the City provide internet security?

Developing security strategies that can protect all parts of a complicated network is one of the most important tasks related to network design.

The City will work with third parties and vendors to achieve a reliable and secure network. The design philosophy is to block everything and then allow access as warranted. The system will be monitored to ensure proper operation and to verify the functioning of security features. This includes monitoring access, insuring all security patches are applied, verifying required services are configured securely and no passwords are left set to the factory defaults. All failed login attempts and ACL violations will be alerted.

The City’s security priorities will also focus on physical security of network equipment (which is likely the biggest risk point.) For greater detail on security please see pages 49-50 of the Broadband Business Plan.