Fiber network patch panel

Underline, a network provider that offers a fresh spin on open access fiber networks, has announced plans to serve Fountain, CO and Salinas, CA. The markets will be the company’s second and third after Colorado Springs (CO), its first.

Construction on the Fountain project, which was made possible by a Request for Information process that Underline won in 2020, is expected to begin this month. The plan is to build a network for residences, businesses and the city’s municipal buildings. The latter includes the utility operations center and related buildings. The utility element of the network will offer Layer 2 connectivity and be part of Fountain’s industrial automation and remote utility location and modernization strategy.

“We’re excited to continue our expansion connecting homes and businesses in El Paso County through this partnership with the City of Fountain,” said Bob Thompson, Underline’s Founder and CEO, in a press release about the new Underline open access markets. This project specifically highlights the power of our open access networks to provide private, secure connections for municipal utilities; with our second market, we’re proving what’s possible with a model so distinct from other offerings.”

Underline won a request for proposal from Salinas in May, 2021. Construction will begin later this year. The network will serve all residences and businesses. The company says that 39% of the community will qualify for the Underline Opportunity Program, which provides symmetrical 500 Mbps service at a rate below the $49 per month usually charged.

“We sit in the wealthiest society in the history of man—it is unfair and unacceptable that all across the country, kids sit on sidewalks and in parking lots to find free Wi-Fi because too many of them don’t have fast enough Internet at home, if any at all.” Thompson said. “We are delighted to work with the City of Salinas to begin solving this problem.”

The same pricing as is offered in Colorado Springs will be available in Fountain and Salinas. In addition to the $49 per month 500/500 Mbps service, symmetrical 1 gigabit service will cost $65 per month and symmetrical 10 Gigabit will cost $295 per month. Micro enterprises will pay $79 per month for 500/500 Mbps and $95 per month for symmetrical 1 gigabit service. Other businesses will get speeds as fast as 100 gigabit per second with prices determined by their needs.

Underline’s approach is fundamentally different than traditional open access networks, which don’t extend to the last mile, Thompson told Telecompetitor last October. Usually, building to the end user is left to the tenant service providers. Underline’s approach is to build the entire network and offer Wi-Fi connectivity and built-in cybersecurity including AI-based pattern recognition network monitoring.

ISPs compete for customers using factors other than price because all providers follow the pricing model set by Underline. Revenues are split between the providers and Underline.

The first three full service ISPs on the marketplace supporting the Underline open access network are Adaptive Fiber, InfoWest and Stratus IQ. Capcon Networks, a specialty business provider, also is on the marketplace.

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