By Ginny Sawyer and Erin Shanley
Policy and Project Manager, the City of Fort Collins and Marketing Manager, Fort Collins Connexion
Please give us a brief overview of the status of broadband connectivity in Fort Collins.
On August 29th, 2020, we will celebrate our one-year launch anniversary! Over the last year, Connexion staff, city officials, and Power and vendor partners have worked tirelessly to bring Fort Collins Connexion to our community. Construction is full swing with more neighborhoods coming online every week and new customers signing up for service daily.
What concerns do residents have about broadband access?
Access to fair, affordable, equitable service is the number one concern of residents. Connexion came about as a direct result of the lack of ubiquitous service in Fort Collins from the local incumbents.
Has the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic impacted broadband connectivity or spurred action to increase and/or diversify connectivity in Fort Collins? Are there specific challenges that residents face as a result of COVID-19? Are there challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic?
When COVID first began, we had realized the potential risk to the supply chain and took preemptive measures to ensure enough equipment was ordered and in stock to support our build-out. The first month was difficult to get some crews to come to Colorado due to overall fears of COVID. This slowed us down slightly, but since then we are back up to our normal workload and schedule. Since March 2020, the demand for quality broadband connectivity has become even more critical. And with much of the workforce continuing to work from home and local schools requiring remote learning for the new school year, the demand has never been greater. In mid-spring, we worked with the local school district to provide wireless connectivity in multiple mobile home parks to assist underserved children with access to remote learning. This is just one example of a challenge our community experienced due to COVID and how Connexion was able to assist to keep our kids connected.
What are potential solutions to the broadband connectivity challenges faced in Fort Collins?
Connexion is continuing to build out our Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network across the city. In situations like the mobile home parks, we work with other community organizations to provide temporary solutions until full build-out in an area is completed. We are also working on long-term solutions for low-income housing developments within our city.
Are there organizations, initiatives, and/or individuals that are working to increase broadband connectivity/access that should be mentioned in the feature? Please feel free to share anything that is not included above. The more information, the better.
Fort Collins has very engaged residents, which we saw in force throughout the feasibility and decision-making phases of the broadband initiative. The enthusiasm for implementation continues at both the resident and business service levels. One recent initiative has been working with our local school district to help provide connectivity in mobile home parks to assist with remote student learning. While this effort will not be FTTH the increased access provided is critical. Connexion and the City of Fort Collins are also working to stand up a Digital Equity program which will consist of a reduced rate for the same 1-gig level service offered to all. This program is anticipated in 2021.