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The debt financing would be paid with rate and fee revenues from the city’s electric and broadband utility enterprise fund and would not increase taxes or affect other city services.
If the measure passes, the network could be completely built out by approximately the middle of 2017, Deb Cameron, customer services and marketing manager for Longmont Power and Communications, said Wednesday. If the measure fails, the city could still do the buildout but estimates that it could take as many as 40 years because of the limited revenues currently generated by Longmont’s fiber optic loop.
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The city built its high-capacity fiber optic loop in 1997 in anticipation of someday providing citywide service. In 2005, the Colorado Legislature passed a bill prohibiting municipalities from providing broadband service without citizen approval. Longmont voters gave that approval in a 2011 election.
The city currently provides broadband services to a few businesses and residents located close to the loop. The bond issue would help distribution go citywide.
The city is proposing to offer 1 gigabit-per-second download and upload speeds to residential customers for $49.95 per month. That download speed is nearly 10 times faster than the highest tier Comcast offers, 105 megabits per second. CenturyLink’s highest tier offers download speeds of 40 megabits per second.
Cameron said additional pricing tiers would still be worked out for the city in addition to the 1-gig speed, and that virus protection is not something that is included in the service at this time.
The vote in 2011 saw stiff opposition from telecommunications companies, but Cameron said she wasn’t sure what sort of opposition to expect this time around.
“We’re just really focusing on seeing how this ballot question turns out and what the voters choose to do on Nov. 5,” Cameron said.