The city’s vision is to provide a world-class community telecommunications infrastructure to Boulder for the 21st Century and beyond. Broadband connectivity is a critical infrastructure service for quality of modern life, as is the case with roads, water, sewer and electricity.
The city is currently constructing a dark fiber backbone to serve the future needs of the community. The backbone itself will not bring ubiquitous broadband connectivity, but rather it will provide a platform for the city and its partners to deliver internet services through various mediums that best match the needs of our many stakeholders.
August (tentative): Council members will weigh in on whether the city shall pursue a self-funded/self-operated or public private partnership model to execute the community broadband vision.
Q1: Council completed an initial review of a proposal completed by staff and technical consultants that outlined medium- and near-term plans for the backbone serves various community stakeholder interests including closing the digital divide, enhancing public safety, and significantly furthering our city goals around general internet affordability and connectivity. City staff was charged with achieving the aforementioned goals while balancing financial constraints, a desire to ‘future-proof’ investments in a space with constantly changing technology, and an urgent timeline due to rich demand for better and more affordable internet services.
As of Q3, construction is 71% complete with the current focus on signals and laterals.
Construction was 53% complete.
January Zayo was selected as the contractor and the contract was finalized.
February A planned phasing approach for the build of the backbone was finalized and published.
March Construction of the fiber backbone is currently on hold due to the City’s response to Covid-19.
April and May The project focused on securing both City and additional permits to have completed in preparation for construction to safely be resumed.
June Construction of the City’s fiber backbone project resumed with a focus on Phase 1 of the infrastructure build.
October - December Good construction progress occurred during the second half of 2020. At 2020 year end, total backbone construction was 20% complete
Magellan Advisors was selected to provide design services specific to the lay-out of a new city-wide, underground, fiber optic backbone.
April Additional funding for high priority network laterals in addition to dark fiber broadband backbone was approved. Fiber and Broadband Presentation to Council and April 23, 2019 Council Meeting Minutes
June The fiber optic backbone design was completed. The design included local field conditions which enabled the creation of the construction packages that will be used in the bidding process for the build.
August Gained Council approval to issue Certificates of Participation to fund the construction. August 6, 2019 Council Meeting Minutes
September The City of Boulder had a competitive sale of its 2018 Broadband Taxable Certificates of Participation (COP’s). The competitive sale was conducted to ensure the City received the lowest interest rates on the transaction.
October The City of Boulder released a Request for Bid (RFB) for Fiber Broadband Construction, it closed on Nov. 15.
January City Council received an update on the broadband options currently available to customers in Boulder through a study session. Council directed staff to proceed with analysis of broadband options.
May Staff brought council five possible broadband models, including the option to refrain from moving forward at all. Staff presented broadband business models, costs, the relationship between broadband and municipalization, potential take rates and examples of cities that have different broadband models. Council expressed interest in proceeding with construction of a fiber backbone to begin implementing the project’s goals and preserve the city’s future options for several different broadband business models.
City staff and technical consultants further researched and refined the backbone proposal and conducted a statistically valid phone survey about market conditions and voter preferences related to community broadband.
June City Council unanimously passed a motion to proceed with development of a fiber backbone in support of the city’s broadband goals.
September Staff issued a request for proposal (RFP) for detailed backbone design with a plan to procure design services, then construction services and then maintain the backbone ourselves. It received 13 responses.
November Staff reviewed vendor proposals and conducted interviews with 6 vendors. One vendor proposed an alternative to the city’s proposed model. The proposed model is for the city to pay a vendor to design build operate and maintain the backbone which could reduce overall costs to the city but comes with tradeoffs.
Frequently Asked Questions
The city’s vision is to provide a world-class community telecommunications infrastructure to Boulder for the 21st Century and beyond. Broadband connectivity is a critical infrastructure service for quality of modern life, as is the case with roads, water, sewer and electricity. This asset will be used for city and select community purposes, rather than provide public services in the short term. In the long term, this infrastructure could support gigabit speed internet services to homes and various city applications.
The backbone itself will not bring ubiquitous broadband connectivity, but rather it will provide a platform for the city and its partners to deliver internet services through various mediums that best match the needs of our many stakeholders.
Due to COVID-19-related delays backbone construction is now slated for completion in 2023.
As with any underground construction project there will be visible activity. Most work will take place in public right of ways and the associated noise will be extremely minimal. In some areas the right of way is large enough that the work can be completed with zero community impacts. In other areas where the right of way is smaller traffic control measures will impact the movement of vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Additional work that will be visible to the community includes the marking of current utilities before drilling, drill crews and construction machinery, reels of conduit and fiber at work sites.
Our interactive map shows the progress of the fiber backbone build and where construction activity is currently planned, project information can also be found on this webpage.