The Town of Erie has been actively pursuing technology and infrastructure projects to keep pace with community growth. These projects offer direct community benefit and present revenue-generating opportunities and possible budget savings that maximize the impact of local tax dollars.
For the past year, the Town of Erie was in discussions with executives from Allo Communications – an established cable, internet, and non-cellular phone service provider – who were interested in exploring a Town-wide fiber project throughout Erie and in opening a brick-and-mortar location that would bring new jobs to the community.
The Board of Trustees approved franchise agreements with Allo at their Regular Meeting on March 22, 2022. The company will build a 10 Gigabit network, providing interested residents with internet speeds as fast as 2.3 Gigabit equal upload and download speeds. Additionally, Allo’s fiber-rich network will support businesses of all sizes. Services will include internet, data transport, video (TV), voice, phone systems, and redundant connectivity to AWS, Azure, and other cloud providers.
Given Erie’s population growth, ongoing work-from-home activity, and increased use of mobile connectivity in our daily lives, the demand for reliable internet connectivity has never been higher. A new town-wide high speed fiber network will also expand and enhance essential internet access for existing Erie businesses and the growth and stability of the service could help attract new primary employers and retail/service companies.
Other Town projects that may benefit from a partnership with ALLO include:
- Security Cameras in Parks
- Waterline/Fiber Collaboration
- Downtown Erie Improvements (Burying Cables Underground)
Fiber Network Construction
Allo Communications will begin construction of the fiber network in October 2022. Throughout the stages of construction, residents and businesses will receive advance notice by mail of necessary work in yards and easements. The Allo team may also knock on doors to explain the process and answer any fiber construction questions.
The expected construction process is as follows:
- Step 1: Allo designs the fiber-optic route to provide service to businesses and homes.
- Step 2: Allo partners with contractors to install underground ductwork.
- Step 3: Allo accesses each splice vault and pedestal to splice the fiber that will connect to businesses and homes. The connection will then be tested to ensure fast, symmetrical speeds.
- Step 4: When internet, TV, and phone service is ordered, Allo connects the fiber from the pedestal to the home or business before the service installation.
FAQs are listed below and will be updated and more added as the project continues.
- Why is Allo allowed to install fiber lines in Erie?
The Town of Erie Board of Trustees approved a Franchise Agreement with Allo Communications which gives them the right to complete this work. Complete details of this granting of rights is available in the Franchise Agreement in section 2.1.
- Why is new service beginning near Flatiron Meadow and Rex Ranch?
All fiber internet service has to begin at a "fiber hut" where the lines begin and where emergency back-up systems are housed to maintain service in the case of outages. The fiber hut for Allo Communications is housed near the Thomas Reservoir on land that Allo is leasing from the Town of Erie. Service will be spread through the Town - and specifically to neighborhoods with few connectivity options - as quickly as possible once service lines are running out from the fiber hut.
- What is a "fiber hut"?
Just like battery back-up systems for homes, the fiber huts are locations built and maintained by internet providers to prepare for power failures with extensive back-up systems and emergency generators to ensure that our customers maintain Internet and phone service. A fiber hut is simply a small, cement building (like the one pictured below) that houses back-up systems and the beginning point of a fiber network in that location.
The space where Allo will be building their fiber hut is on leased space that the company has contracted with the Town to utilize. The space is near Thomas Reservoir which is why service for Allo is beginning in neighborhood in this general area.
- Why does the Erie community need another internet, TV, and phone provider?
The Board of Trustees and Town staff believe that facilitating another internet provider option (Allo Communications) for residents and businesses will increase competition among all providers, and that should reduce costs for residents and businesses and improve customer service. With a continually growing residential and business population, extra options for coverage should help supply keep up with demand in our community.
- What is an “easement” or “right-of-way”?
Answer from Allo:
The city owns small but specific portions of your property to access and maintain city utilities. We work with the city to access these areas as we build our fiber network.
A utility easement allows a utility the right to use and access a specific area of your property for constructing, operating and maintaining gas, electric, water, and sewer lines. The easement is often a permanent restriction on the property so that it transfers ownership with the home or property when sold. Having an easement gives the utility the right to use the land, but the utility does not own it.
A “right-of-way” is the surface and space above and below any real property in the city in which the city has an interest as an owner or trustee for the public for public travel including public streets, highways, avenues, roads, alleys, easements, sidewalks, tunnels, viaducts, or bridges.
- How do I find the easement in my yard?
Answer from Allo:
There are a few ways to determine the easement area of your property.
- Review the deed to the property which can be obtained from the county clerk or recorder. The easements will be explained in the legal description of the property.
- Contact the zoning or mapping department for your county or city. These departments are in charge of keeping records of surveys and plot maps and can help provide information about an easement on your property.
- Reach out to the utility company — or any entity with easement rights — to request the easement information regarding a certain property.
- Contact a title insurance company, or private title searcher, they can be hired to perform a search for easements. They are often able to provide a comprehensive report for a fee.
- How will I be contacted regarding the start of construction?
Answer from Allo: ALLO will reach out to you regarding construction in a variety of ways including direct mail notices, emails, door tags, and in-person visits from our quality assurance construction team.
- How long does construction take?
Answer from Allo: This depends on the layout and design of your neighborhood. Some areas are built with easier access to utilities and easements, others have more complex designs and natural obstructions which can cause delays. Planning, design, and engineering are months in the making before you ever see a sub-contractor or ALLO team member make an appearance. City planning is unique in every area and in our 10+ years building GIG communities we’ve found that no two neighborhoods are alike. For these reasons and the ones that are far outside of our control, like weather and unexpected natural obstacles, we recommend checking our interactive website map for the most up to date information on your neighborhood.