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Thompson School District Named 2021 Community Broadband & Digital Equity Award Winner for the Expansion of Pulse Municipal Broadband Network

LOVELAND, Colo. – Sept. 14, 2021 – The National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) named Thompson School District (TSD) as a recipient of NATOA’s 2021 Community Broadband and Digital Equity Awards. Recognizing innovative programs in government, business and local communities nationwide, NATOA awarded TSD the COVID-19 Response Digital Equity Project of the Year – Distance Learning, for Thompson School District’s expansion of Pulse’s municipal fiber-to-the-premise network to the Big Thompson Canyon and the Lago Vista Mobile Home Park.

“The COVID crisis has demonstrated how critical local governments are to providing access to our most vulnerable communities, whether it be building infrastructure in underserved neighborhoods, distributing devices to support distance learning, or training isolated seniors,” noted NATOA president Brian Roberts. “The innovative and essential projects we are recognizing show how communities are stepping in to advance digital equity and fill broadband connectivity gaps.”

Earlier this year, Thompson School District applied for and was awarded $737,000 from the Connecting Colorado Students Grant program to expand reliable internet service to families in two areas within the Loveland community where connectivity is significantly limited or not available. With this grant, TSD and Pulse, the City’s community-owned communications utility, is building out infrastructure to students in parts of the Big Thompson Canyon and the Lago Vista Mobile Home Park. This award from NATOA recognizes the district’s efforts to provide equitable hardware, remote instruction and broadband access throughout the last school year.

In addition, TSD as part of the grant will sponsor a Pulse account for eligible students in these areas and pay for one year of 1 gigabit internet service. Service for students is expected to be available starting in late 2021 for Lago Vista and mid-year 2022 for the Big Thompson Canyon.

These two locations are among TSD’s most underserved areas as they pose geographic challenges that limit access to cabled internet service and strong enough cell phone service necessary to make hotspots a viable option.

“Many districts throughout the country worked tirelessly to provide student devices, remote instructional software and broadband connectivity to their students.” said Dr. Matt Kuhn, TSD chief technology officer. “We are so honored to be recognized for our efforts to do so for the TSD community. Loveland Pulse is a great partner to help close the digital divide, especially in those parts of our community that are least able to access broadband infrastructure.”

“We are happy to have Thompson School District recognized, as they have been an exceptional leader in the community, serving as a champion of needs in broadband and technology.” said Lindsey Johansen, Pulse communications and marketing manager. “We are very fortunate to have them as partner in developing actionable and long-term solutions here locally.”

A full list of 2021 award winners can be found at www.natoa.org/broadband-and-digital-equity. Recipients will be recognized at NATOA’s 2021 Annual Conference, to be held in virtually September 21 – 23.

About Pulse

Pulse is a trusted local utility connecting the Loveland community by offering affordable, reliable, and fast internet and voice service through a 100% fiber-optic network. The community-owned utility was established in 2018 and built on a promise of local service, transparency in rates and speeds, and responsiveness second to none. Pulse will be available to all residents and businesses within the City of Loveland approximately four years after construction began in November 2019. For more information, please visit LovelandPulse.com.

 

About Thompson School District

Thompson School District is the 17th largest school district in Colorado, encompassing 362 square miles and serving over 15,000 students. The district’s territory includes Loveland and Berthoud, plus sections of Fort Collins, Windsor, Johnstown, and unincorporated land in Larimer, Weld, and Boulder counties. TSD serves students in Pre-K through 12th grade with thirteen school-based preschool programs, a dedicated preschool building, one K-8 school, eighteen elementary schools, five middle schools, five high schools, and two charter schools. Teachers and administrators collaborate with families and community partners to ensure that students are college, career, and community ready.  For more information, please visit thompsonschools.org.

About NATOA

NATOA’s Mission is to support and serve the communications interests and needs of local governments. We are a professional association made up of individuals and organizations responsible for – or advising those responsible for – communications policies and services in local governments throughout the country. For more information, please visit natoa.org.

Loveland Pulse hits boring milestone: 1,000,000 feet!

Loveland Pulse, the City’s community-owned, 100% fiber-optic internet network, is in year two of what is estimated to be a four-year construction process to pass each and every address in the city. The project is on schedule, on budget, and milestones are being achieved regularly.

On June 28, 2021 (just 10 days after the first anniversary of residential service launch) the network construction team achieved a huge accomplishment: one million feet of boring in the city! 

 

For an idea of that distance, it would be similar to boring a straight line between Loveland and the Great Sand Dunes National Park, which is southwest of Pueblo. 

Pulse’s locally owned-and-operated partner, Colorado Boring – who you’ll recognize out in the field in their big, beautiful yellow trucks —  is employing a low-impact directional boring technique (as opposed to open trenching) to install conduit in utility easements and public-rights-of-way.  That conduit will then house the fiber-optics that will allow pulses of light travelling over threads of glass to bring gigabit internet, phone, and (coming soon!) television to homes and businesses. 

From the time you see boring teams and construction taking place in an area, until service becomes available, is approximately 6 – 9 months. 

If you’re interested in receiving communications about the project, and being emailed directly when construction is going to occur in your area, and later when service becomes available,  please sign up to stay in touch at: LovelandPulse.com/EarlyInterest. If you have any questions, you can contact us by email at: Pulse@LovelandPulse.com, or by phone: 970-962-2111.

Pulse Works To Access Federal Relief Funds

Pulse works to access federal relief funds to offer free or reduced price internet service during the pandemic

Loveland Pulse, the City’s community-owned, 100% fiber-optic Internet utility, recently received approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to offer the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB). The EBB will provide discounts of up to $50 per month toward broadband Internet service for eligible households.

As part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 that was signed into law at the end of 2020, Congress tasked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with developing a new $3.2 billion program to help U.S. households that are struggling to pay for internet service during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Who qualifies?

Loveland residents will be able to apply for a monthly credit up to $50 if they meet the household eligibility guidelines. A household is eligible if one member of the household:

  • Qualifies for the Lifeline program
  • Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch or breakfast program
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020, and the household had a total income in 2020 below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers

The EBB is limited to one monthly service discount per eligible household. To participate through Pulse, households must be within a fiber-enabled service area. To see if service is available in your area, contact 970-962-2111.

When and how can eligible households sign up? 

Enrollment is now open! Interested residents can visit www.LovelandPulse.com/EBB and follow the steps to begin their eligibility verification and program enrollment.

The EBB will continue until designated federal funds are expended. It is important to note that nationwide interest and participation in the program is strong and it is unclear how long funds will last. 

“Although we are only in our second year of a four-year process to bring this critical utility to every address in Loveland, we are happy to be able to participate in this important program, allowing serviceable residents access to federal relief funding,” said Brieana Reed-Harmel, Municipal Fiber Manager. “Pulse understands the significance of our responsibility to support the connectivity needs of our community.  Ensuring equitable access to high-quality internet for all is one of the reasons we exist.”

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Updated: May 12, 2021

Thompson School District secures $737,000 in grant funding to connect underserved students through Pulse

We are excited to share some news with our partner Thompson School District (TSD).

TSD has been awarded $737,000 from the Connecting Colorado Students Grant program to expand reliable internet service to families in two areas within the Loveland community where connectivity is significantly limited or not available. With this grant, the district plans to partner with Pulse, the City’s community-owned communications utility providing high-speed internet and voice services, to build out infrastructure to students in parts of the Big Thompson Canyon and the Lago Vista Mobile Home Park.

These two locations are among TSD’s most underserved areas as they pose geographic challenges that limit access to cabled internet service and strong enough cell phone service necessary to make hotspots a viable option.

“Over the last year, our district has worked diligently to assist families who haven’t had adequate access to the internet by offering and facilitating connection options; but we quickly recognized that for some areas of the community there weren’t viable options,” said Dr. Matt Kuhn, TSD chief technology officer. “This grant money directly addresses the issue for families in these areas – we now have the resources to bring reliable internet to them so that access to learning and information will no longer be a barrier.”

“Pulse was formed to address, among other things, the disparity of access to reliable high-speed internet access within our community,” said Loveland City Manager Steve Adams. “As a local internet service provider, and TSD partner, we have the ability, desire and duty to support the educational needs of students within our district who don’t have sufficient access to the internet.”

The Connecting Colorado Students Grant program was created in 2020 after Colorado state lawmakers passed House Bill 20B-1001 moving $20 million from the general fund to this new grant program aimed to increase access to broadband services for students, educators, and other staff who lack stable, reliable internet access for online learning.

We will work with TSD to begin the planning process with property owners and other stakeholders in preparation for network installation. More information, such as timeframe, are forthcoming.

 

Loveland Pulse celebrates 2020 milestones, looks ahead to 2021

A message from the City of Loveland’s Municipal Fiber Manager Brieana Reed-Harmel

 

Happy New Year, Loveland! 

The Pulse team started 2020 with high expectations, solid plans, and a whole lot of tenacity. Launching a brand new utility from the ground up is never simple. Doing so during a once-in-a-century pandemic added an unpredictable layer to this unique process. That said, I am proud to announce that our project is on time, on budget, and our team has met or exceeded the goals set for the first year. More importantly, 2020 has proven that fast, affordable, high-speed internet service is essential to our community. 

2020 Hindsight

Looking back, construction kicked-off during what turned out to be a record-setting, historic November snowfall in our region. We built the crucial core components of our network, allowing connection to the greater World Wide Web, and began transmission of our very first bits and bytes. Our operations platform was brought to life, and over three dozen city team members were trained to use it. We launched residential and business services, allowing our first customers to benefit from our 100% fiber-optic network. Our subscriber rate (or take rate) since our launch, is exceeding our goals in the business plan and we are off to a great start. Read more about how we approach our take rate measurement here and view our monthly Fiber to the Premise reports at LovelandPulse.com/PulseInProgress for details. These updates are an important part of our commitment to transparency.

In addition to construction and service, we also sponsored free public WiFi outside the Loveland Public Library, launched a local support center for customers to enjoy 24/7/365 technical assistance, established connectivity for the underserved Big Thompson Elementary School, and started an outreach program for  Homeowners’ Associations to help educate about Colorado 811 laws and protect private infrastructure during construction. Learn more and sign up at our directory by visiting LovelandPulse.com/HOA

What does 2021 hold?

Heading into year two of a four-year construction project, we will continue to work as quickly, efficiently, and safely as we can to serve you. Additionally, I am happy to share that we will be offering PulseTV service in 2021. With PulseTV you will be able to stream and watch your favorite programming from sports and entertainment to local-only channels and more – live. It’s a viewing experience Loveland has never had before. Sign up at LovelandPulse.com/EarlyInterest if you want us to email you when details come available.

As always, we encourage you to stay connected with us at LovelandPulse.com, and on social media. 

We are proud to be your trusted, local communications utility. On behalf of the entire Pulse team, thank you for your continued support. We are excited about what 2021 will bring!

Loveland Pulse launches business service plans

Today, Pulse has launched its local, 100% fiber-optic high-speed internet and voice services for business. 

Service is now available to businesses within current Pulse service areas. Business owners and managers – once network construction is complete and service is available in your area, you can sign-up with Pulse for the security, flexibility, and scalability you require to manage the ever-changing technology needs for your company.

Internet and voice access can make or break a business in today’s economy. We are here to ensure that Loveland businesses have the reliable service they need to thrive. Pulse is proud to be Loveland’s community-owned high-speed internet and voice provider, bringing comprehensive, reliable, and competitive service needed for ultimate productivity.

Pulse Business High-Speed Internet Plans

Pulse standard business internet plans include symmetrical speeds, unlimited data with no caps or throttling, 24/7/365 technical support, and no long-term contracts. Internet plans range from 100 megabits per second for $109.95/month up to one gigabit per second for $449.95/month. For businesses with high-bandwidth needs, one to 10 gigabit-per-second internet options are also available. Find out more at LovelandPulse.com/businessinternet.

Pulse Digital Voice Solutions

Additionally, Pulse offers an impressive range of digital voice solutions for businesses of any size or budget, with service starting at $29.95 per month. 

What’s so compelling about Pulse digital voice service is how comprehensive it is for any business need. Service offerings start as simply as a single business phone line and scale up to fully hosted, cloud-based, enterprise solutions that alleviate big upfront costs. We can even offer video conferencing and collaboration tools, providing businesses with the flexibility needed to run a company successfully from any environment. Find out more at LovelandPulse.com/businessvoice.

One Step Forward in Supporting Loveland Businesses

Our Pulse business launch is another milestone for the project, further solidifying our utility’s role in economic development for the city. Building a 100% fiber-optic network adds critical communication infrastructure that provides equal access to all – fostering a stable and diverse economic foundation. The internet drives the economy forward, with many of the world’s most successful companies leveraging the ability to share information and connect with customers and clients. 

City of Loveland Economic Development Director Kelly Jones comments that “Reliable internet access is a top priority for both local companies and for those looking to relocate here. Growing employment and business opportunities to sustain a healthy economy is our department’s primary focus. Community-owned internet will allow us to bring more jobs to the city and help more Loveland businesses succeed. We can’t wait to see Pulse business service in action.”

We are 12 months into a four-year project. As an area becomes fiber enabled, we will notify businesses in that area directly. Companies that have signed up using the Early Interest Form will also receive email notifications when service is in their area. 

We encourage all businesses to fill out the Business Interest Form for ongoing service updates and direct notification. 

Six free video apps perfect for connecting with family and friends

The holidays are approaching and thanks to technology, distance is no longer a barrier to being together. With high-quality video chat features on many mobile devices and computers, you can gather with family and friends to enjoy meaningful connections over the dinner table this Thanksgiving and for other upcoming holidays. All you need is a device, cellular and/or WiFi connections, and the right video chat app for your needs.  Just in time for the holidays, the Loveland Pulse team has rounded up details on six video chat apps for you to consider for your holiday celebrations this year.

Zoom

Free and paid options available | 100 max participants on free account

Zoom is arguably one of the most popular video chat apps in use right now. If you work or learn from home, chances are you are familiar with this tool and already have a free or paid account. The interface is pretty simple. You can log in through a web browser, desktop application, or through a mobile app. And this Thanksgiving, you are in luck. Free accounts usually have a 40-minute limit, but Zoom is lifting that limit from midnight ET Nov. 26 through 6 a.m. ET Nov. 27 so your virtual family gatherings don’t get cut short. 

Skype

Free video chats, paid calls | 50 max participants

Skype is one of the oldest video chat tools available and is known for its ease of use across platforms. Download the mobile app on any mobile phone, or download it to your Mac or PC. Tip: Here is a step by step guide from DigitalTrends.com on how to install and use. 

FaceTime

Free video chats, emoji, and effects included | 32 max participants

Many Apple users are familiar with the FaceTime app and love it for its two-camera capabilities, effects, and ease of use. It is easy, but it only works with other Apple iOS users, so be sure to plan ahead. Use it on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and on a Mac to connect to other uses with an iOS device. 

Facebook Messenger Rooms

Free video chats, emoji, and effects included | 50 max participants

Facebook Messenger Rooms are a great, easy tool to connect with people on and off of Facebook. You just create a Messenger Room on Facebook, invite your friends/ family by sharing an easy link, and start chatting. This also works for Instagram, WhatsApp, and Portal devices. Similar to Facetime, there are built-in effects and emojis to use. 

Google Meet

Free to use for 1 hour | 100 max participants

If you are familiar with Google’s Suite of products like Gmail, Google Drive, etc. then Google Meet is an easy option as you need a Google account to sign up. Similar to Zoom, you can use a web browser or download the mobile app for your video or voice calls.  

Houseparty

Free to use | 8 max participants

Houseparty is a face-to-face social network available to use through Apple’s iOS, Android mobile phones, and Chrome. This app limits the participants to eight people but also allows participants to play group games together while using the app. If you want to enhance your virtual gathering, this is an option. 

 

This list is not exhaustive, of course – there are many ways you can connect with friends and family online. We recommend picking the video chat tool that works best for you and your family. Do you have others you like? Let us know! We want to help Loveland residents better connect through technology when they need it most. 

 

Loveland Pulse Capitalizes on Power Project to Bring Fiber and High-Speed Internet to Big Thompson Elementary

New service allows the school to say goodbye to slow connection and hello to Gigabit speeds.

Loveland Pulse, the City’s communications utility providing high-speed internet and voice services, has installed its 100% fiber-optic network with gigabit internet speeds to Big Thompson Elementary School (BTES) which had poor network connectivity. Pulse was able to capitalize on a Platte River Power Authority (PRPA) project and the power division’s recent electric line upgrades to install its network up to the school. 

Loveland Pulse engineers test new 100% fiber-optic network recently installed at Big Thompson Elementary.

“Our partnership with the Thompson School District made us aware of the severe need at BTES. When our team realized that we could work together with other utilities to save money installing our fiber, we knew we had to jump at the opportunity,” said Brieanna Reed-Harmel, Pulse manager. “The move provides cost savings to Pulse and advances the goal of improved connections for the City and the school district. We will continue to take advantage of other ways to save money and get more people connected through these kinds of collaborations. ”

The City’s move solves a big problem for BTES and Thompson School District (TSD) as students return to schools for in-person learning. Unlike other TSD schools, BTES was on a much slower internet connection due to its location. A 4G connection was turned on over the summer and before that, the school was limited to using radio point-to-point at a bandwidth much lower than 4G. According to TSD Chief Technology Officer Matt Kuhn, before Pulse, the bandwidth at BTES was so low that the school was limited in the types of learning software it could access – the same software that other schools with better internet connections were able to implement. 

“BTES Students could not do nearly as much, as quickly, on the internet as other students. Since most of our software is cloud-based, this was a major problem,” said Kuhn. “Now BTES is not limited by their bandwidth. They can video conference, engage in interactive software, and more with ease thanks to the reliability, high-speed, and symmetrical speeds. Plus, the district no longer has to maintain two different kinds of internet connections to our schools, easing processes and saving us money.”

For BTES, a TSD Ubiquitous Technology Access School focused on blended learning and STEM, the network limitations had a cost to teachers and students as well. 

According to BTES principal Sarah Walgast,  the school has been working to increase technology integration for a few years now. Teachers have been building blended learning models with the hopes of incorporating virtual field trips and tours, meetings with students at other schools and community groups and more.  The unreliable network made it impossible for the school to successfully incorporate those resources. BTES even needed to stagger when classes were online, even through testing, so that students could work online uninterrupted. 

“It was extremely frustrating for our teachers to build out effective blended learning curriculum for students and have our poor connection stand in the way,” said Walgast. “The digital world is our students’ world and as a school, we need to meet our students where they are at. Upgrading to the Loveland Pulse network will help us immensely and we are incredibly grateful for this partnership that will bring so much value to our school and our families.” 

Pulse began constructing its network in November 2019 and it will take three to four years from that date to complete phase 1 of the project, within Loveland city limits. Phase two includes the rest of the City’s electric service area, including Big Thompson Canyon residents. 

“Our local Pulse team can’t wait to see how our network improves the lives of the teachers and students in our schools, starting with BTES,” said Reed-Harmel. “We know there is a critical need for reliable, high-speed internet service across the area and want to thank everyone in the community for their patience as we are doing everything we can to install our network safely and efficiently to get our residents and businesses the connections they deserve.”

Loveland City Councilor John Fogle Named to FCC’s Intergovernmental Advisory Committee

Loveland Ward 3 City Councilor and Loveland Communications Advisory Board (LCAB) liaison John Fogle has been chosen as one of 12 municipal representatives from across the U.S. to serve on the FCC’s Intergovernmental Advisory Committee (IAC). Fogle is the IAC’s only Colorado representative and will serve a two-year term. 

The IAC provides guidance, expertise, and recommendations to the Commission on a range of telecommunication issues. The FCC reauthorized the IAC on Nov. 8, 2019. Chairman Ajit Pai announced the appointment of 30 elected and appointed officials from municipal, county, state, and Tribal governments last week.  

Fogle has served on Loveland’s City Council since 2011 and has been a member of the National League of Cities Information, Technology and Communications (NLC-ITC) federal advisory committee for six years. He was an early advocate for Loveland’s municipal broadband network and has held various roles including council liaison to the Broadband Taskforce and LCAB. LCAB advises council on broadband and communication matters, including Loveland Pulse, the City’s communications utility that provides high-speed internet and voice service to residents and businesses. 

Fogle has been in the technology field for 38 years and has owned and operated an IT consulting and sales business for the past 13 years.

“Councilor Fogle’s appointment is a huge benefit for Loveland Pulse and the northern Colorado region. The need for ubiquitous access to affordable, reliable communications technology is undeniable and has never been more important,” said Brieana Reed-Harmel, City of Loveland Fiber Manager. “Councilor Fogle understands the technical, municipal, and business sides of telecommunications as well as the unique needs of our communities. He will not only be a voice for Loveland and Colorado at the federal level, but he will bring a tremendous amount of knowledge and passion to the IAC.”

 

“I am proud to bring my expertise to the IAC as the FCC continues to explore public access to information systems and telecommunications,” said Fogle. “I have been fortunate to work closely with Loveland and surrounding cities on broadband issues through my work as a city councilor and NLC-ITC and look forward to continuing my work advising on the broadband industry, 5G and more.”