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Larimer County secures DOLA grant to speed up Wellington, Masonville middle-fiber projects


Larimer County has been awarded a grant of $995,429 from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to bolster the development of middle-mile fiber to Wellington Colorado, and Masonville Colorado.

The grant will be pivotal in bridging the digital divide to improve broadband access for both unserved and underserved rural residents in Larimer County.

Larimer County is a vibrant and well-connected region. Still, some parts of the county have long suffered from inadequate broadband infrastructure and unreliable service, particularly in rural communities outside the main population centers.

The county’s strategic assessment revealed that approximately 1,075 unserved premises within a roughly 3-mile radius around the Wellington area and 596 unserved locations along the Masonville route could benefit significantly from improved connectivity.

These middle-mile fiber projects play a pivotal role in preparing for future connections, although direct service drops to individual premises are not included in this stage. The scope of the projects includes the construction of 107,168 feet of above-ground fiber on existing Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association (PVREA) poles, interconnecting with existing community-owned middle-mile fiber.

While also increasing resiliency for PVREA’s power infrastructure, the Wellington section of the project includes the Town of Wellington and surrounding rural residents and connects with Fort Collins Connexion.

The Masonville route, on the other hand, will focus primarily unserved premises along Larimer County Road 27 between State Hwy 34 and Masonville. This extension will create opportunities for future last-mile expansion projects with Loveland Pulse

Each municipal fiber internet service provider (ISP) will own and be responsible for constructing, operating, and maintaining the respective middle-mile fiber. As community-owned assets, the projects will be sustainable and provide a permanent long-term solution to area connectivity.

“This grant is a critical piece of our strategic plan to bring improved internet access to underserved areas of our community,” said Mark Pfaffinger, Support Services Director and CIO for Larimer County. “The middle mile connection is the foundation to connecting homes and positions the community to compete for future grant funds to help build out this critical infrastructure to bring fiber to homes with dramatically improved quality and speeds. Our NOCO Community Fiber partners have made this possible with the collaboration and regional planning that is necessary to solve complex connectivity problems in our region.”

Brieana Reed-Harmel, Pulse Fiber Manager, expressed, “This DOLA grant empowers us to address the urgent need for better broadband connectivity in underserved areas of our county community. The Wellington and Masonville Middle-Mile Fiber project is a crucial step towards achieving a long-term solution to the goal of connecting every urban, suburban, and rural resident to high-speed internet and bridging the digital divide.”

Northern Colorado Community Fiber LogoA key element of these middle-mile projects is the partnership with NOCO Community Fiber (www.NOCOCommunityfiber.com). It’s a collaboration between Larimer County, the municipal fiber ISP providers of Loveland Pulse, Fort Collins Connexion, and Estes Park Trail Blazer, and the electric utilities of PVREA and Platte River Power Authority. “Connexion is excited to continue our collaboration with Larimer County and Loveland Pulse to provide lightning-fast, reliable internet speeds with amazing customer service to all of those in Larimer County. We believe that a great internet experience is the foundation for the future of innovation and collaboration in this region,” said Connexion Broadband Executive Director Chad Crager.

The collaboration has already spurred the extension of community-owned fiber from Livermore to Red Feather Lakes by Connexion, extensions from Drake to Sylvan Dale by Pulse, and more, creating mutually beneficial projects and elevating broadband services for underserved rural regions in the County.

The DOLA grant comes as a critical financial boost and allows Larimer County to pursue its ambitious broadband goals while remaining sustainable. Without grant funding, the project’s costs would have exceeded available local funding. The county’s general fund has allocated funds to match the grant, highlighting its commitment to serving its underserved residents with equitable high-speed broadband access.

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About Larimer County:

Larimer County serves all residents and businesses through stewardship of numerous community resources, infrastructure improvement and maintenance, planning services, transparent public records, human and economic health initiatives, and broad community-wide public safety services. The County has a rich agricultural and western heritage that is reflected in our commitment to a high quality of life and preservation of our natural areas.

About Loveland Pulse:

Pulse delivers multi-gigabit internet, whole-home managed WiFi, streaming TV, and voice services to Loveland, Colorado, and surrounding areas. Established in 2018 with a mission to make high-speed internet available to every home and business in Loveland, Pulse has built the fastest, most reliable fiber network available locally. As a community-owned utility focused on service and technology, Pulse has quickly become an award-winning offering with a Net Promoter Score (NPS) 17 times higher than the national average and any other provider in northern Colorado. Visit pulsefiber.org to learn more.

Fort Collins Connexion LogoAbout Fort Collins Connexion:

Fort Collins Connexion is a municipal broadband utility that was created in 2017 by and for the Fort Collins community with the  sole purpose of improving life and business in Fort Collins through better, more affordable internet.

Connexion offers the fastest internet speeds available with symmetrical 1 and 10 gigabit service, unmatched reliability, all at an affordable price and with no long-term contracts. Additionally, Connexion offers competitive phone and TV services.

Fort Collins’ investment in building out a 100% fiber network ensures that the community is future-proofed for the next generation. Learn more at fcconnexion.com.