Residents and Business Could See Fastest Internet Speeds in the United States and More Reliable Service as Early as 2022
(Bozeman, Montana…..September 22, 2021) Bozeman Fiber announced today that it has applied for a $65 million Industrial Development Revenue Bond through Gallatin County to build a world-class fiber internet network to 22,000 homes in the Gallatin Valley. The organization, officially organized as a 501 (c)(4) nonprofit, has partnered with the county to serve as conduit for the transaction which will make gigabit fiber service available to every household and business in the greater Bozeman area. The funds are completely investor-based and at no risk or cost to the county or taxpayers.
“Bozeman Fiber is extremely excited to take this step forward in our fiber-to-the-home project,” said Greg Metzger, CEO of Bozeman Fiber. “The $65 million raised will allow us to officially move the project forward and enable Bozeman Fiber to apply for additional state and federal funding for rural broadband expansion. Gigabit fiber service will be a big win for the entire community and at no risk or cost to taxpayers!” he added.
Today, Bozeman Fiber operates an existing fiber ring that successfully provides connectivity to the City, County, and Bozeman School District facilities. Additionally, the network serves over 200 commercial customers with gigabit-fiber service, at some of the fastest speeds available in the U.S. The existing fiber ring is designed on an Open Access network model, meaning the Bozeman Fiber owns the fiber infrastructure and leases out space to multiple internet service providers who compete for customers based on service and price.
“Bozeman Fiber was formed back in 2015 because business and city leaders knew the lack of fiber infrastructure and competition would impede regional economic growth. With this project, we’ll be able to attract and retain more businesses, and create jobs,” said Metzger.
Because the Open Access model—which has been extremely successful in Idaho, Utah and Washington State—creates competition, customers benefit from competitive prices and faster and more reliable service. As a nonprofit, Bozeman Fiber reinvests any profits back into the network to spur further economic development and a better quality-of-life for residents.
To bolster the success of the project, Bozeman Fiber will partner with UTOPIA Fiber, a Utah-based fiber company that operates the largest, most successful Open Access network in the United States in 50 cities (business services) and 17 cities (residential services). In 2019 UTOPIA Fiber inked an operational partnership with Idaho Falls Fiber in Idaho, which quickly became the largest and most-successful fiber network in that state. UTOPIA is owned by a consortium of 11 cities and since 2009, has designed, built, financed, and operated over $330 million worth of fiber projects funded completely through subscriber revenue, at no cost to taxpayers.
Pending County Commission bond approval on October 5, the three-year fiber-to-the-home construction project is slated to begin spring, 2022. Additional applications for state and federal funding are in the works to expand the Bozeman Fiber network to rural areas. The Industrial Development Revenue Bond is sponsored by the Gallatin County Commissioners in recognition that all county residents need true enhanced broadband services. This initial funding is critical to establishing the revenue base required to secure the types of grants and funding to assist Bozeman Fiber in reaching rural citizens.
About Bozeman Fiber
Bozeman Fiber was created by the City of Bozeman in 2015 as the lack of true high-speed broadband was identified by the City of Bozeman Economic Development department and the Chamber of Commerce as a missing link to the future growth of our existing businesses and innovative new companies, with the accompanying jobs and wages. A group was formed including the City of Bozeman, Gallatin County, the Bozeman School District and business leaders and funded by 8 banks with a CRA- (Community Reinvestment Act) designated loan. This $4,000,000 was used to create the fiber ring connecting anchor tenants (City of Bozeman, Gallatin County and all of the Bozeman School District buildings) and also servicing the districts of Bozeman. Anchor operations began in the fall of 2016, and commercial operations in February 2017.
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