Longmont's success leads to dozens of followers: When is 'crazy fast' internet coming to your town?

Posted at 8:34 PM, Jul 24, 2017

LONGMONT -- It's 40 times faster than broadband. It's cheaper than the cable company. And it could be coming to a city near you. 

"Crazy fast" and municipally-owned internet is already in Longmont.

"PC Magazine, in their June edition, rated Longmont, Colorado as having the fastest internet speeds in the country," Longmont Power and Communications General Manager Tom Roiniotis said. 

The city built an entire fiber grid network that now has the potential to connect every residence and business in the area to 1-gigabit internet speeds. 

For comparison, the FCC considers anything that is 25 megabits per second or faster to be "high speed." One gigabit per second is 40 times that. 

The grid is owned and operated by the electric utility, who will hook up any home that signs up to the fiber network for free. The bill is $60 per month.

"The City of Longmont provides electricity, water, wastewater, and now internet service," Roiniotis said. "We want people to take it as much for granted as they do flipping a light switch on in their house." 

In the ‘90s, the city installed fiber for communication lines to connect their utility stations. Fast forward a few years and $55 million, and the mayor dubbed Longmont as "Colorado's 1st Gig City." The project even won the 2017 Community Broadband Project of the Year from a national telecommunications organization. 

But Longmont did have to jump through some hoops to get there. The biggest one was SB 152, a state law that prohibits municipalities from going into the internet business for themselves. 

"More and more communities are starting to look into this," Roiniotis said.

Over the last several years, 98 municipalities in Colorado have passed ballot measures opting out of SB 152 and allowing themselves to look into owned-and-operated internet service. 

Centennial is currently building its fiber loop. The city has already laid about 6 miles of cable. A handful of other cities and counties are in the beginning stages, others are researching it, and still others just want the ability to look into it. 

Gig speeds are available in Denver through CenturyLink fiber, Comcast cable, or a new company called Webpass. The biggest difference is the cost. The cheapest CenturyLink package is a $80/month promotional offer when bundled with TV.

Where does your community stand on "crazy fast" internet? (Info courtest