Tag Archive for: City of Loveland

Pulse Requesting Approval of Interfund Loan

At the Loveland Communication Advisory Board (LCAB) meeting on May 11, 2022, staff presented a progress report on Pulse network construction and made a recommendation to secure a $15M loan to cover the costs to complete network buildout.

The progress report showed that the pace of network construction and the take rate of subscribers are on track to meet Pulse’s operating plan and budget set in 2019. The pace of network construction is meeting or exceeding the originally forecasted timeline of 4-5 years for citywide buildout. While the pace is on track, construction started 12 months later than planned because of a delay of municipal bonds issuance and a mutual parting of ways with the original construction contractor over an inability to meet acceptable contract terms. Take rate – the percent of subscribers in a neighborhood (measured in intervals starting after 90 days of service availability) – is on a healthy trajectory to meet Pulse’s required target of 32% – 42% by the end of the buildout.

Pulse cited how unforeseeable events of the last several years – including the global pandemic, unprecedented new development in Northern Colorado, and inflation not seen in over a generation – have greatly impacted financials.

Examples of these impacts:

  • Because interest rates on investments dropped to nearly zero percent since the beginning of the pandemic, investment revenue from bonds was nearly 40% less than what was conservatively budgeted.
  • Prices and lead times for materials have been getting higher and longer. Overall inflation for material is averaging between 25% and 30% from the beginning of the project, meaning less construction can be completed at the prices the budget was created for.
  • Northern Colorado is in the midst of explosive new development, causing additional network construction at these higher prices. While it is more economical to install fiber conduit for new development as compared to existing, the amount of new development has been beyond what anyone forecast.
  • Ongoing global events and continued uncertainty of the market are causing fluctuations in material pricing, especially for petroleum-based products – such as conduit and polycrete vaults and handholes. 

These factors combined have ultimately resulted in a funding gap between $10.23M and $15M.

After evaluating several financing options to address this funding gap, Pulse has recommended utilizing an Internal Line of Credit Loan from the Power Unrestricted Fund with a not-to-exceed value of $15M. The loan term would be 18 years, paying interest-only in years 1-8, and paying interest and principal starting in year 9. The interest rate will be set at the investment rate for the City, as is customary for interfund loans within Water & Power, and Pulse would only be able to withdraw funding as needed.

The interfund loan will not impact rates for either Loveland Water and Power or Pulse customers. Pulse is an Enterprise Fund – it is funded by rates and fees collected from Pulse subscribers, NOT by residents’ taxes or electric rates.

Loveland City Council established Pulse to bring reliable, fast, and affordable broadband service to everyone in Loveland. Higher-than-expected construction costs and lower-than-expected interest revenue have put an unexpected financial burden on Pulse’s ability to meet City Council’s directive.

Pulse will be making a presentation on May 24, 2022 to Loveland City Council, requesting that they approve an Ordinance Enacting a Supplemental Budget and Appropriation to the 2022 City of Loveland Budget to Establish an Interfund Loan between the Power Utility and the Municipal Fiber Utility. View Loveland City Council’s webpage for meeting details. 

Why We Use Temporary Drops for Winter Installation

We know the wait for fiber internet installation can be tough. After all, you are on the verge of having super-fast, reliable fiber internet from Pulse, and all the best streaming entertainment the web has to offer (not to mention crystal clear Voice service!).

Winter adds to the technical challenges of fiber installation. Frozen grounds, shorter days with less sunlight, excessive moisture from melting snow drenching the soil—all of these issues and more can make it exceedingly difficult to bury and install fiber. It’s also a riskier time for our crew of technicians.

While permanent fiber installation may sometimes be delayed during winter and early spring, temporary drops can help deliver the high-speed internet you’ve been waiting for—even if you’ll have to wait for better, safer weather and ground conditions for final installation with buried fiber internet lines.

Here are answers to common questions about temporary drops. We want to explain our process of installing them so you’ll know what to expect.

What is exactly is a temporary drop?

A temporary drop, also referred to as a temp drop, is simply an above-ground fiber internet connection line that provides fiber internet service temporarily to your home or business until weather and ground conditions are feasible and safe enough to bury the fiber line in the ground.

What kinds of conditions necessitate temp drops?

There are two common reasons why Pulse may not be able to bury the fiber and complete installation during the winter and early spring.

1. The ground is frozen.

During winter and early spring, the colder temperatures can make the ground too hard to dig and bury fiber. And just because the temperatures warm up for a few days doesn’t necessarily mean the conditions are improved enough to complete the installation. In general, the ground must be fully thawed at least one foot deep, which can take weeks of 60 degree-plus temperatures, depending on the soil’s physical and chemical composition.

2. The ground is too wet.

The winter and spring can bring heavy precipitation, from heavy snows and snow melts to days of rain. When the soil is over-saturated, it is simply not feasible to install fiber optic lines below ground safely and effectively.  Additionally, burying fiber when the ground is too wet can upset lawns, flowerbeds, trees, and other vegetation—not to mention upset your neighbors and their lawns, too!

What are the steps to installing a temporary drop?

After determining that the conditions do not support burying fiber, a temp drop is authorized. Our technicians will then connect the Multi-Port Service Terminal (MST) (i.e., the “box” near the street where internet service is supplied) to your home or business via a fiber line placed above-ground.

So instead of burying the fiber in the ground, the temp drop keeps the fiber line above the ground and connected to your home or business, temporarily, until the buried installation can occur when the weather and other conditions improve.

The line may run along your lawn and driveway, but don’t worry! Your car cannot damage the line. The fiber line may also cross over your neighbor’s property, but as with other utilities, there is a “right-of-way” that permits this if necessary.

Is the temp drop line safe?

Yes! While we don’t recommend you handle the line, it is not dangerous. Fiber technology consists of tiny glass strings that transmit light. So unlike live electrical wires, there is no risk of electric shock.

However, we suggest that you do your best to avoid the line while tending to yard work or clearing snow. Although the fiber lines are sturdy, snowplows and other equipment and tools can sometimes harm the line, necessitating more technical support—not to mention the inconvenience of losing internet!

When will you replace my temp drop?

When conditions permit, our team will return to your property to remove the temp drop and bury the permanent cables. Temp drops are replaced in the order that customers were installed; the temp drops that were placed first will be the first ones that get removed. You do not need to do anything to remind us of your temp drop; our crew keeps track and will be out to replace the temp drops as soon as they can.

We greatly appreciate your patience as we strive to provide you with fast, reliable fiber Internet, Voice, and TV as efficiently and quickly as possible! As always, feel free to reach out us with any questions or concerns you may have.

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 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

*Update: Houseparty was discontinued in October 2021.

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.