Fort Collins City Council to weigh broadband and NISP
The basics on where Fort Collins stands on providing broadband services Kevin Duggan
The Fort Collins City Council meets at city hall, 300 Laporte Ave.(Photo: Coloradoan library)Buy Photo
Council members are expected to decide whether to seek voter permission to create a municipal utility that would provide telecommunication facilities through a high-speed broadband internet network.
The measure, if approved by voters in the Nov.
7 election, would change the City Charter to allow but not require the establishment of broadband services through the Light and Power Utility.
The proposal would allow the utility to issue up to £150 million in bonds to build and operate a fiber-optic based network. The cost of the system would be borne by subscribers to the service.
The goal is to make high-speed internet service available throughout the city and its Growth Management Area. City officials hope to provide speeds up to 1 gigabit per second for downloads and uploads at competitive prices.
The business model for the service has not yet been determined.
It could be a “retail” model through which the city would build, operate and maintain a broadband network, or it could be done through agreements with one or more existing internet service providers.
Supporters say municipal utility is needed to meet the public’s expectations for internet service and to help small businesses stay competitive through reliable, fast connections.
Existing internet providers, such as Comcast and CenturyLink, cannot be relied on to provide high-speed service to all parts of the city or to provide adequate customer service, supporters say.
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Critics say the city should not compete with existing service providers that already have infrastructure in place and expertise in operating internet systems. Others say the city should have a business model in place before seeking voter approval of a new utility.
Also on the council’s agenda is consideration of the city’s formal comments on a fish and wildlife mitigation plan for Glade Reservoir and the Northern Integrated Supply Project, or NISP.
The mitigation plan proposed by Northern Water and the 15 municipalities and water districts that would receive water from NISP has been submitted to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission for consideration. If approved, the plan would be forwarded to other state entities for approval.
NISP would draw water from the Poudre River and store it in Glade Reservoir, which would be built northwest of Fort Collins.
The project includes building Galeton Reservoir near Greeley as well as pipelines to convey and release water.
Water would be taken from the Poudre year-round depending on conditions, but the largest draw would be during times of peak flow in May and June.
City staff’s proposed comments on the mitigation plan state the plan does not go far enough in addressing the city’s concerns about NISP’s impacts on water quality and the ecological health of the Poudre.
NISP has been going through the federal permitting process for 12 years. In 2008 and 2015, the council adopted resolutions stating the city could not support NISP as described in draft environmental impact statements.
Critics of the project, including the environmental group Save the Poudre, say the city should actively oppose NISP and work to stop it.
While not supporting NISP, the city’s comments and recommendations on how it might operate are based on the scenario that if the project is permitted and built, then certain steps should be taken to protect the city’s interests, officials say.
Kevin Duggan is a Coloradoan senior reporter covering local government. Follow him on Twitter, @coloradoan_dugg, and on Facebook at Coloradoan Kevin Duggan.
On the agenda
The Fort Collins City Council will meet at 6 p.m.
Tuesday at city hall, 300 Laporte Ave. The meeting will be broadcast on cable channels 14 and 881. Items on the agenda include:
- A request to appropriate £2.6 million to complete facilities at the Gardens on Spring Creek.
The request includes £400,000 in additional city funds to bridge the gap between the cost of the improvements and earmarked funds, including £1.7 million in private donations.
- A request to appropriate £150,000 to cover the cost of the Nov.
- A question for the Nov.
For updates from Tuesday night’s meeting, check Coloradoan.com or follow Coloradoan Kevin Duggan on Facebook.
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