Longmont Power & Communications’ NextLight Internet service is the t hird fastest in the country, according to speed testing company Ookla.
Ookla, based in Seattle, owns SpeedTest.net, and has previously licensed its Internet testing technology to the Federal Communications Commission when the FCC wanted to build its own application.
LPC is currently installing NextLight infrastructure throughout the city and hooking up customers in portions of the city. NextLight is the fiber-optic-powered Internet service the city is selling alongside other competitors like Comcast and CenturyLink.
The venture is funded from a $40.3 million bond the city issued in 2014, which will be paid back by ratepayers over time.
Because NextLight uses fiber-optic cable to transmit data, users could theoretically download and upload data at a rate of 1,000 megabits per second (or one gigabit), although that varies based on hardware and other factors.
Ookla lists LPC third in its United States list of fastest Internet Service Providers, with an average download speed of 221 megabits of data per second, behind Google Fiber in first place and Washington-based iFiber Communications in second.
The NextLight installs have also made Longmont the city with the fastest Internet service in the state, LPC Manager Tom Roiniotis said. According to Ookla, Longmont has an average download speed of 105 megabits of data per second, more than twice that of Parker, Colorado’s second fastest city with average download speed of 54 megabits of data per second.
Ookla shows Internet speeds in Longmont shooting up in January and February, when LPC crews began hooking up customers to NextLight in earnest. In February, Roiniotis announced LPC was hiring more install crews to cut down on wait time for a connection in the initial launch area of 500 homes and the expanded area of roughly 1,400 homes later.
“We’re pleasantly surprised that we’re having such a positive impact so early in the deployment,” Roiniotis said.
The state of Colorado averages a download speed of 40 megabits per second, but Roiniotis hopes that as NextLight is rolled out to other areas of the city, he hopes to the service’s speeds will raise that number.
“It’s going to continue to significantly improve as more and more of our community gets the NextLight service, and that will have an affect on Colorado’s average,” Roiniotis said.
Circle Graphics, 120 9th Ave., was among some of the first businesses in the city to be connected to the service. Circle Graphics prints and ships graphics for billboards as well as printing photos on canvas on machines that operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Bret McInnis, Circle Graphic’s vice president for information technology, said they used to have a CenturyLink Broadband plan for maximum upload or download speeds of 50 megabits per second.
Because the images for the canvases use high-resolution photos, they are sent in large files that can range from 100 to 300 megabits in size. The company prints anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000 canvases a day during the busy holiday season.
“We’ve got more bandwith,” McInnis said, standing in front of the five tall black towers of computing equipment that make up the business’s data center. “So the NextLight fiber feeds right into this and we used to see peaks with CenturyLink … you would see periods when we were bursting at our capacity.”
Switching to NextLight, McInnis said, means employees can download and upload the high-resolution images much more quickly.
“Now, we can’t really overuse it and you don’t see peaks like you used to,” McInnis said. “That reduced latency, which means we get the files faster, which means we can print faster and get it to the customer faster. So that’s the end result.”
Roiniotis said Ookla’s ranking is big step in LPC’s desired end result: putting Longmont on the map in the technology world.
“One of the reasons we’re doing this project is to strengthen us from an economic development perspective,” Roiniotis said. “There are people who access this (Ookla) information when deciding where to locate.”
Karen Antonacci: 303-684-5226, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/ktonacci