Can we talk about community-owned broadband?

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Can we talk broadband? That’s the question that citizens and business owners kept asking the City of Loveland, Colorado as they were exploring the possibility of bringing high-speed connectivity to their community.

In 2015, the city took the first step in its journey by joining other cities, counties and municipalities in opting out of a 2005 Colorado law that prevented local governments from investing in broadband infrastructure.

With a population of around 77,000 and growing, the city is located along the north-central border of the state, and many of the residents commute to nearby Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins for work. With its close proximity to these larger cities, Loveland is an ideal location to live and work.

As the City of Loveland studied their options for a municipal broadband network, they discovered they could provide their residents a cost-effective, high-speed connectivity solution that would offer reliability, fair rates and superior locally-based customer service.

To gain insight during their planning efforts, city officials consulted with nearby communities, as well as municipalities in other states who had recently deployed successful broadband networks. Drawing on the experience and knowledge they learned by networking with these other cities helped the City of Loveland as they worked through the planning process.

The team from the Wesco | Anixter branch in nearby Denver was already providing the City of Loveland’s existing electric utility with infrastructure products and services. This established relationship with the city engineers provided the opportunity to offer the city solutions and advice on fiber materials and services during the broadband project planning process.

The benefits of having a community-owned utility had already been proven by Loveland’s electric and water utilities. In the fall of 2018, after working with a consultant on a feasibility study, they decided to move forward with a community-owned broadband network, which was ultimately branded as Pulse.

In a press release about the name chosen for the broadband project, it was mentioned that the rhythm of life in Loveland is vibrant and full of energy, and the name represents the connection between community and technology – a community with heart and a 100% fiber-optic network delivering internet connectivity via pulses of light.

Steady forward momentum

Construction on the Pulse project began in November 2019, and it is expected to take four years to build the network to pass every home and business in the city. Additional work is in progress to serve other residents within the Loveland electric service territory footprint – including residents in Larimer County. The first connection was completed in the summer of 2020. The original project scope included approximately 37,600 addresses – with a successful implementation defined as achieving a 32% take rate.

While Wesco | Anixter was not part of the initial design/build process, they have played a vital role as a partner to the City of Loveland as this broadband project moves forward.

Wesco | Anixter is providing fiber products for last-mile FTTP connection, fiber accessories, vaults, conduit, signage, stickers, installation accessories, test equipment and more.

Utilizing their experience and knowledge learned from similar FTTx projects, the Wesco | Anixter team was able to deliver supply chain solutions to help the City of Loveland streamline the project and provide efficiencies and cost savings.

• Just-in-Time (JIT) Delivery – stocking inventory for the project and releasing as needed for incremental phases. The typical timeframe from order release to delivery on-site is 48 hours.
• Inventory Management – including weekly updates of inventory, items on order, checks and balances and other reporting components
• Warehousing – utilizing our warehouse and yard to house inventory for customers, resulting in cost-savings to them for things like warehouse space, yard space, operational expenses, employees and equipment expenses
• Forward Future Buys – to stay ahead of supply chain delays or price increases
• Alternative Product Solutions – sourcing alternate items when lead-times or availability are not meeting project deadlines
• Utilizing Supplier Relationships – long-term relationships with the industry-leading suppliers means we can help negotiate pricing, ensure level pricing and negotiate volume buys that result in project cost-savings
• eCommerce Platform – Streamlines the ordering and procurement process and provides real-time inventory, shipping and tracking info
• Wesco Integrated Supply (WIS) – provides customers with advanced e-procurement systems, world-class inventory, professional on-site materials management and optimized logistics services

An integral piece to the relationship with the City of Loveland on this project was the expertise and fiber deployment experience provided to the city by the internal Wesco | Anixter Broadband Support Center, a centralized team to support FTTX projects, including opportunities, bids and active project implementations. Being able to offer customers the highly specialized technical support that the BSC delivers, along with customized supply chain management tools from a single turnkey provider, is why municipalities turn to Wesco | Anixter for support with complex broadband deployment projects.

The City of Loveland’s collaboration with other nearby municipalities that are offering broadband or deploying fiber networks has resulted in cost-savings, operational efficiencies and the ability to share resources. Wesco | Anixter has supported nearby municipalities as well, helping them deliver fiber to their communities.

The city’s plans for using its fiber network are still evolving and will provide many opportunities for exciting new innovations.

What does access to community-owned, high-speed connectivity mean to the residents of Loveland?

In a survey of residents, about 19% of Loveland respondents said they operated a business from their homes. In the same survey, 44% of respondents said they work from home at least some of the time. This survey was done prior to recent pandemic restrictions. Currently, there are probably even more home-based workers. High-speed connectivity is imperative to their ability to work from home.

The bandwidth at Big Thompson Elementary School was so low that it was limiting their online learning opportunities. The City of Loveland took advantage of a Platte River Power Authority (PRPA) project and the Power Division’s recent electric line upgrades to install its 100% fiber-optic network to the school. This is a game-changer for the students and teachers.

Getting there is about the journey

Building a fiber network can be a challenging effort, but having an experienced supply chain partner like Wesco | Anixter can take the bumps out of the road.

“We are proud of the progress we’ve made during the last two years to bring community-owned, 100% fiber-optic internet, voice and television services to the residents and businesses of Loveland. We very much appreciate having solid and reliable partners like Wesco | Anixter working closely with us to help ensure success as we bring this utility to life,” said Loveland Pulse Senior Construction Project Manager, Kim Reeves.

Every network is built to fit the specific and unique needs of the community it serves. Having an experienced and knowledgeable partner who can offer advice on the best products and technology solutions for the project, as well as being able to offer cost-savings and speed up deployment by delivering world-class supply chain management solutions, makes the journey easier.

“Our customers’ goals are our goals. By aligning our fiber broadband services and operations to meet the exact needs of the City of Loveland’s broadband project plan, we can assure that we are providing a customized solution,” stated Steve Dean, Senior Vice President, Utility, at Wesco | Anixter. “We look forward to our continuing partnership to help deliver reliable high-speed broadband to the City of Loveland residents.”

WESCO Expertise Drives Fiber  Deployment for City of Loveland