New internet project breaking ground in Colorado Springs this week

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 12:02 PM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) -New internet fiber lines are being laid in Colorado Springs, and the project is expected to bring faster and cheaper internet options to downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.

Underline is an Austin, Texas based company that provides internet fiber and technology. It will call Colorado Springs it’s first market.

“We founded the company about 2 years ago, for the purpose of partnering with American cities to provide them with access to information, and connectivity to the internet that is fast, affordable, and fair,” said Underline CEO Bob Thompson. “We focus on attacking the reality that many poor families have no internet at home at all, or very poor service.”

The map below shows phase 1 of the project. Thompson says, these boundaries likely will extend further East, South, and North soon. A phase 2 is being planned. Phase 1 encompasses much of school districts 11 and 2. Community leaders say, those areas in large part are of the lowest socioeconomic status in the city.

Area outlined in blue will have new internet fiber laid starting in late October, and lines...
Area outlined in blue will have new internet fiber laid starting in late October, and lines will continue being laid to complete the project within 9-12 months, according to Underline CEO Bob Thompson(Underline Infrastructure Inc.)

Project leaders say families and businesses in the area shown above, until now, have only had less-than-sufficient internet options.

“What we find, is the vast majority of homes in Colorado springs have internet that maxes out at about 50 Megabits of download speed, and usually 10 to 20 Megabits upload speed.  That’s why so many people struggle during the pandemic. If you get on a Zoom call and have a parent working from home, and a student trying to work on homework online, all of it freezes up with that amount of speed,” Thompson explained. Underline will allow for connections up to 10 Gigabits for residents and 100 Gigabits for businesses, both for upload and downloads.

“Their mission is really centered around providing open access to an entire community, and treating the community holistically, as opposed to cherry picking some of the more wealthy neighborhoods,” said Mike Juran, a Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce member and CEO of software company Altia. “The need is pretty high, it’s pretty intense.”

Juran also says better internet connections are needed to attract and sustain a local workforce. “As the rest of the city is moving more toward these areas, a lot of it having to do with affordability, it’s getting a lot more attention.  Amazon, for example, building their distribution center at the airport, and having a workforce that extends out from that, those employees are going to need to be wired and up to date technologically.”

Juran’s company, Altia, will be one of the first customers connected by the new fiber. “We have an office downtown Colorado springs.  Our service right now is less than sufficient, I would say ... We need to have online meetings that are flawless and the data has to be accessible very quickly. We need upload and download speeds much, much faster than what we have today, and that will make us more competitive.”

Underline also making headway on another front very important to Colorado Springs. “Cybersecurity is front and center to our mission of partnering with American communities. We sought out relationships with the National Cybersecurity Center, and The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, which is a preeminent leader in cyber research.”

Thompson explained that existing infrastructure for internet service is dated because it was put in decades ago, before the world relied so heavily on the internet and before a global pandemic made that reliance even more significant. Juran explained, a solution to the less-than-sufficient internet problem has been needed for years, but Underline’s innovation and business model is what made the company stand out as a realistic pathway to a solution now.

“They really just came onto the scene with a different mission and a focus than traditional media companies or internet companies,” Juran said.

Colorado Springs is not paying for the project, according to Thompson. He says, Underline raised more than $100 Million in capital to pay for phases 1 and 2.

Underline hopes to have the first connections available in late November. Phase 1 is expected to last 9-12 months, and Phase 2 is being planned. Click here to find pricing and other project information.

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