For a substantial period of time, the Town of Estes Park has been pursuing options to improve broadband access (high-speed internet) in the Town’s Light & Power (L&P) service area. With Federal and State grants, the Town completed a feasibility study, followed by a detailed engineering plan. The service area includes more than 300 square miles stretching from Glen Haven through Estes Park, Pole Hill, and down Highway 7 to Allenspark. The estimated cost to install the system is near $30 million.
The Town reached out to private and commercial firms to assess interest in building the system, but the return on investment for private firms was too low -- none saw the entire project as financially enticing. Therefore, the Town employed a consultant to complete financial projections for a Town-owned broadband utility providing a minimum of 1 Gig service to everyone who subscribed. The projections showed a reasonable financial path in which utility revenue bonds could be paid off in 12-18 years.
The Town Board asked staff to determine the Town's ability to acquire revenue bonds to construct the utility. In the spring of 2018, the Town employed a bond advising firm. Town staff are now working with the advisor to prepare the materials necessary for bond underwriters.
In November of 2018, staff reported to the Town Board that it is feasible to obtain funding to build the broadband utility through bond sales and the board will consider hiring a bond underwriter.
Next steps include consideration of hiring a project manager to finalize a business plan including implementation options, marketing and customer service options. This information will lead the board to a final decision point on starting a new utility. Construction could begin in 2019.
As it relates to Highway 7 from Estes Park to Allenspark, the Town’s Light and Power Division installed fiber to Allenspark, primarily for “Smart Grid” purposes. This $1 million project will enable monitoring and proactive maintenance of the electrical grid in that area. It was also designed to have the capacity to support broadband to residents and businesses along Highway 7 into Allenspark.
- Broadband Financing and Next Steps report Nov. 13, 2018
- Proforma Analysis review by the Town Board Feb. 27, 2018: Staff's overview presentation and Uptown Services' Proforma Analysis presentation
- Estes Park Broadband Expansion and Technical Assistance Strategy Report by NEO Fiber (2015)
- Estes Park Area Take-Rate Assessment by Dr. Jill Mosteller, CSU (2016)
- Understanding the Town's Broadband Initiative: Frequently Asked Questions July, 2017
- Presentation for League of Women Voters Jan. 31, 2017
- Broadband Engineering Project Stakeholder Kickoff Presentation: Oct. 31, 2016
- Broadband Engineering Project Stakeholder Kickoff Meeting Video: Oct. 31, 2016
- Article: Broadband engineering plan due in summer of 2017
- Article: Behind the scenes of the broadband initiative by Town Administrator Frank Lancaster
- News Release: Town receives $1.4 million broadband engineering grant from DOLA: Study results will show how increased broadband access and 9-1-1 redundancy could be achieved
- News Release: Voters pass advanced telecommunications initiative
For more information, please contact the Utilities Department at 970-577-3588.