Breckenridge aims to start building its own high-speed internet network soon

Breckenridge Town Council has approved $8 million for the first phase of design and construction of a high-speed fiber optic network. The town is aiming to get the first fiber cables in the ground on May 22.
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Breckenridge is pushing forward with an “aggressive” timeline for the installation of a town-owned, high-speed fiber network in hope of getting the first cables in the ground on May 22.

In October, Breckenridge Town Council approved spending $8 million on the first phase of construction for the “backbone” of a high-speed fiber network and some connections to the town’s businesses and residents. The budget allocation came after council supported a resolution in September expressing the town’s intent to finance up to $25 million for the entire project.

As town staff continues working on the design and construction of the fiber network, they’re preparing for the coming launch of network operations and have even secured a partnership with a service provider. Meanwhile, the first phase of construction is set to begin this spring before pausing for the winter and picking up again next year.

“We are really hoping to be in the ground on May 22, but that is a very tight timeline,” explained Shannon Haynes, assistant town manager. “We are hopeful we can make that happen, but it’s contractor and probably a little bit weather dependent.”

The planned construction of the fiber network will cover a portion of the Summit County Recpath going from the Justice Center on Airport Road up to Adams Avenue in Breckenridge.

While the construction of the network should allow businesses and residents in the town core to start tapping into high-speed internet service as early as this year, it will also force a temporary closure of that piece of the recpath when the fiber is laid under existing streets and paved pathways in town.

The portion of recpath is expected to remain closed until roughly July 1 with Park Avenue and Airport Road being the likely detour while the recpath is tied up.

The town previously contracted with Foresite Group for a feasibility study and subsequent engineering work on the fiber network. Now, ALLO Communications has been selected to operate the network and provide service.

According to a memo produce by town staff, Breckenridge’s fiber will connect to the Colorado Department of Transportation’s fiber that’s being leased by Summit County. Once complete, the network — which will be called “Fiber9600” — is slated to become part of the larger network that will create a loop of fiber running along Interstate 70 from Denver up to the northwest corner of Colorado before going back to Denver through Steamboat Springs.

The memo says the county’s fiber lease will give Breckenridge’s network access to the fiber from I-70 south to Breckenridge, and Fiber9600 will connect to a “Meet Me Center” that’s going to be built by the Justice Center on Airport Road.

Breckenridge is also putting together promotional materials with Launch Advertising to help brand the network, in addition to producing other creative materials for marketing and community outreach purposes. A press conference is set for 4 p.m. on June 3 to announce the town’s partnership with ALLO Communications.

“We are very pleased so far with our selection and feel very comfortable with them,” said town manager Rick Holman, adding that ALLO has brought a certain “level of experience” of the table that’s really helped Breckenridge move forward with the fiber project.

ALLO was founded in Nebraska in 2003. The company has made recent headlines in Colorado after building a fiber network for Fort Morgan, a small city in northeastern Colorado with a heavy agrarian influence and a population barely over 11,000 people.

According to the company, ALLO also provides broadband, telephone and video services throughout a number of cities in Nebraska, including Lincoln, North Platte, Ogallala, Bridgeport, Scottsbluff, Gering, Hastings and Alliance.

“We’re not new at this,” said Brad Molina, founder and president, as he was introduced to town leaders earlier this month and said that ALLO has 550 employees and 65,000 customers in nine markets.

For Fiber9600, Breckenridge has dictated five “zones” scheduled to get fiber connections in the 2019 construction plan. Town staff would prefer to have the zones covering downtown and the recpath outside the Riverwalk Center done by July 1, though Haynes acknowledged that could be a tough task under such a tight timeframe.

If construction in the downtown area goes beyond July, the town could look to take a short hiatus to ease the strain around the Fourth of July holiday before starting up again when the region isn’t so busy.

Provided everything goes according to plans, customers could be signed up for service as early as this fall.

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