City-run broadband network team selected, ready to start designing

Ravyn Cullor

After announcing the selection of the Fort Collins Connexion team in early August, the City of Fort Collins is ready to move on to designing the upcoming City-run broadband internet network

The City interviewed a total of 172 applicants before selecting the team which will design, construct and launch the Connexion broadband network, a high-speed fiber network offered to all residents, businesses and organizations within the boundaries of Fort Collins, run by the City.

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The municipal broadband idea passed by 57 percent in the 2017 election following extensive research by the City and Colorado State University, said City Manager Darin Atteberry. 

Atteberry said while 10 individuals were interviewed for the position, 178 were screened by the recruitment company which helped the City select candidates. 

Colman Keane was hired as the broadband executive director, who will lead the program and report directly to Atteberry.

“Colman is responsible for leading the utility,” Atteberry said. “He will be responsible for a good business plan, reliable service and leading a team of 35 to 40 full-time employees who will report to him.”

John Robbins, the broadband network manager, will oversee the design of the system and ensure that it remains relevant to technological needs. Additionally, Broadband Marketing Manager Erin Shanley will help build and maintain the Connexion brand and reach out to new customers, and Clint Reetz will run the plant as broadband outside plant manager.

Keane wrote that with the team now being selected, the City can move ahead with its municipal broadband project in an email to The Collegian.

“The core broadband team is in place and we are moving forward with building and implementing the new high speed, next-generation fiber network for all residents, businesses and organizations within the City of Fort Collins,” Keane wrote.

According to the Connexion page on the City of Fort Collins website, the $1,000 bonds for the $142.2 million project sold out in May.

“The next step is to design the system,” Atteberry said. “We have been forming relationships with contractors and designers to help us build the plant and system.”

The City partnered with CSU to research the challenges of building a fiber optic broadband system. Atteberry said the main concerns are limiting disruptions to homeowners and roads during the construction process.

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Because Connexion will be a city managed utility, like electricity or water, the team must also set up back-office functions and billing for customers. Because the City of Fort Collins already runs municipal utilities and has strong customer service practices, Atteberry anticipates the setup and quality of billing and customer service will go smoothly.

Connexion hopes to turn their first customer’s service on by this time next year, and the entire system should be complete in three to four years.

Multiple plans with differing speeds will be available, but Atteberry said the goal is to provide reliable and high-quality internet service to the Fort Collins area.

Collegian reporter Ravyn Cullor can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @RCullor99.