It’s called a locate flag. It’s used to indicate where an underground utility line is, so that construction crews can avoid it while they work. Painted marks are also used – in fact, they’re required – but a flag helps keep the “locate” in place if snow covers the mark, or painted grass gets cut, or a painted rock gets moved.
2. Who put the flag there?
A locating contractor working for the utility. By law, when underground work is being done in an area, the company doing the excavation has to call the Utility Notification Center and ask for “locates” to be marked. Every utility in that area then has to mark their lines. Each utility hires locators to do this work, whether the lines are owned by the City or by a private company such as Xcel or CenturyLink.
3. How much notice do I get before locate flags or markings are placed?
The flags are placed in utility easements – areas where the utility has the right to enter for purposes of maintenance, repair, or other necessary work – so no notice is required. City-owned utilities will often give an advance notice as a courtesy.
4. What do the colors on the flag or markings mean?
Each color indicates a different type of utility line, as follows:
Please leave them in place – they’re protecting your utility lines from harm. In addition, removing a locate flag that’s still in use is a misdemeanor under Colorado law
6. How long will the flags be in place?
A locate flag is good for up to 30 days, after which it has to be re-authorized. Some utilities will remove the flags before then if the related project has been completed.
7. How do I know if a flag or marking has been out there too long?
Call the Utility Notification Center of Colorado (UNCC) at 1-800-922-1987. They can tell you how long a flag or marking has been out and whether it’s safe to remove them.
8. Once it’s safe to remove the markings, does the paint wash off?
Yes, the paint is water soluble.
9. Who should I contact about locate flags or markers?
In addition to the identifying color, each locate flag will identify the specific utility that had it placed. Call that utility for any additional information or concerns about the flags and their placement.
1. What is a "Gig City?"
A Gig City has citywide symmetrical gigabit internet available to its homes and businesses, preferably with no data caps to impede the experience. Because of the NextLight fiber-optic network, which allows uncapped gigabit uploads and downloads, Longmont is the first Gig City in Colorado.
2. Does my business need to get a W-9 from NextLight?
No. Since NextLight is a City of Longmont utility, your existing W-9 for the City’s utility billing will be sufficient.
1. If this fiber-optic service is NextLight, what was the “first light?”
The “first light” came when Longmont started its own electrical service in 1912, in the face of considerable opposition from the existing utility companies, including legal action. That allowed the city to put light into glass in the form of incandescent bulbs. Since then, Longmont Power & Communications has provided electricity for light and much more at an extremely low cost with excellent reliability for over a century. Today, the “next light” is again about putting light into glass, this time through fiber optics.
NextLight: Becoming a NextLight Customer
1. When can I sign up for NextLight broadband service?
In most of Longmont, you can sign up right now. If you’re in an area that’s under construction, we’ll contact you directly by mail when NextLight reaches your area.
2. How do I sign up for NextLight broadband service?
If service is available in your area, give us a call at 303-651-8386. After choosing either English or Spanish, push ‘2’ to get a NextLight representative and we’ll get you started.
3. Do I need to pay a deposit for my NextLight service?
For most of our customers, no. If you have a good payment history with the City of Longmont utilities (typically no more than one reminder-to-pay in the last 12 months), then we can sign you right up. If that’s not the case, customers can provide us with either a Social Security Number or a $200 deposit, which is refundable after one year. We have these policies to ensure that the community’s investment stays as secure as possible.
4. Can I get NextLight service to my apartment, townhome or condo?
Yes, once an access agreement has been signed that allows us to provide service to the property. To get that started, just have your landlord, property manager, or HOA board call us at 303-651-8386. When the agreement is signed and all the necessary equipment has been installed and tested, we’ll let you know that NextLight is available.
6. I saw NextLight construction in my neighborhood a while ago, but I still haven’t been told that service is available. Did I miss something?
Don’t worry, we’re still on the way! A lot of steps go into getting an area NextLight-ready, including:
Desigining the network to effectively cover the neighborhood with minimum disruption.
Receiving a construction permit.
“Locating” nearby utilities so that they can be avoided during the construction.
Major construction – by far the most visible part!
Installing, splicing and testing the fiber-optic cable once major construction is complete.
Certifying that the area is ready for service.
A lot of factors can affect the timing of all this, including weather, other construction projects, equipment availability, and the needs of other sections of the network. Because NextLight is an interconnected system, one area may be nearly complete but not yet certified because it’s “fed” by another area that is still underway.
When NextLight is complete in your area, we will send out doorhangers and letters to let you know that the service is available and that residential users can sign up for their Charter Member Deal. If you’ve signed up for ourearly notice, we’ll also contact you before those notifications are sent out, to give you a head start on scheduling your installation.
7. Will NextLight sell my web browsing history to advertisers?
As a not-for-profit community-owned electric and broadband utility, our first priority is to serve our customer-owners. It has long been LPC policy that customer-specific information will not be shared with third parties without the customer’s written permission or a court order. Our policy is in compliance with the Colorado Open Records Act, where utility customer information is specifically protected. It is also in compliance with governing state and federal requirements.
8. Can I combine the bill for multiple NextLight accounts?
No. Our billing system bills each address separately.
9. I’m in a contract with another provider. What can I do?
If you decide to break the old contract, NextLight can be a long-term savings. Our service doesn’t have any “introductory” rates that balloon later, making it easier to see how quickly you make back any early termination penalties from your old provider.
A. What is prorating and how does NextLight use it?
Depending on when service is connected, new NextLight customers may already be partway through a billing cycle when they subscribe. To reflect that, we prorate the first month’s bill, charging you only for the time period when you have NextLight service.
B. I didn’t register for online billing. Do I still get my bill?
Yes, but you will need to register in order to login to your account and see it. Once you become a NextLight customer, your bill summary will be sent to your online account and you will be notified by email. If you are having difficulty registering or you wish to have a paper bill instead for an additional $2 charge, please call our customer support team at 303-651-8386.
NextLight: Charter Membership and Discounts
1. What is the NextLight Charter Member discount?
The best price for a symmetrical gigabit connection in the state, and possibly the nation, offered to residential customers during our initial buildout of the NextLight system. Charter members receive that connection for $49.95 a month. Our normal rate for that service is $99.95. If you have moved into a home whose previous owner had the Charter Member discount, you are now a Charter Member as well.
2. When does the NextLight Charter Member discount signup window start?
Charter Members must sign up within three months of NextLight being available to their home. The three months doesn’t start until our fiber reaches your neighborhood and the service is made available. Once your home is eligible for NextLight service, we’ll let you know, by letters, postcards, and emails. That’s when the clock begins ticking.
3. How long does the NextLight Charter Membership last?
The status doesn’t expire. A Charter Member will always have the best rate available.
4. Are there other discount options if I miss signing up for the NextLight Charter Member discount program?
Yes. If you sign up for residential gigabit service at the regular $99.95 rate and keep it for twelve months, we’ll lower it to $59.95 a month afterward as a loyalty incentive.
5. Will my Charter Membership price never, ever, ever change? Ever?
Never-ever-ever-ever is a long time. Our $49.95 Charter Member rate is not an “introductory rate,” so it’s not triggered to automatically balloon after a certain time period. We will regularly review our rates, but since NextLight a not-for-profit service, those are driven by the needs of the network – everything collected goes right back into maintaining, operating, and enhancing the system. We’re proud of our gigabit deal, and we’re not in any hurry to change it.
NextLight: Installation Process and Hardware
1. How is a NextLight fiber connection installed?
Depending on the landscape, the fiber connection to your home or business may be either underground or overhead. An underground line will be buried about 6 inches below the surface, encased in a 10mm micro duct to make installation easier and protect the fiber. That line runs from a nearby “fiber vault” to your location; the vault may be either an upright box sometimes called a pedestal, or a smaller box that’s known as a flush vault or “flower pot.”
To do this work, installers use a variety of excavation methods, such as hand digging or directional boring. In some cases, the line may be laid directly on the ground as a temporary measure. This is usually due to either frozen ground during the winter, or to a high volume of installation requests; in both cases, crews will return to bury the line after the customer is connected, so that enough time can be taken to do the work well. Once the excavation work is done, the crew will do their best to restore the lot to the way they found it.
An overhead line will connect from the nearest utility pole, running down the side of the building.
In both cases, the line will connect to a terminal access point, or TAP box, that will be mounted on the outside of the home or business. From the TAP box, workers will then run a fiber line inside the building, connecting it to an optical network terminal (ONT), a desktop “fiber modem” that translates the light pulses of the NextLight network into a form that your computer can use. Users that have Digital Voice will also have a desktop battery backup installed.
Workers may have to drill holes in drywall, studs or floor boards to install the interior fiber line; all installations are coordinated with the customer.
2. Where will the TAP box be mounted on the outside of my home or business?
Our crews will typically place it with the other communication boxes or entry points that the building already has. If you need the TAP box in a different location, be sure to tell our customer service representative when you first sign up for NextLight service, and then confirm that location with the NextLight installer.
3. What’s an Optical Network Terminal?
It’s the device that turns light into electric impulses and vice-versa, so that your computer and our fiber-optic system can talk to each other. So, basically a fiber modem.
4. What is a “wireless gateway?”
The wireless gateway is an optical network terminal (ONT or “fiber modem”) that has a wireless router built in. Specifically, the router has four 1 Gigabit Ethernet ports and a dual-band 802.11ac wireless access point.
5. Will the wireless gateway be fastened onto my wall?
No. While the first ONTs we installed were wall-mounted, all of our fiber modems – both with and without wireless capability – are now desktop units instead.
6. Why are you changing to desktop fiber modems?
It’s more convenient for our customers, who can more easily put the unit in a spot that suits the room best. It also allows you to unplug the unit and bring it to us if your ONT needs an upgrade, instead of scheduling a technician. Finally, it means we don’t have to attach a mounting bracket to your wall for the modem. Instead, the fiber line can emerge from a small wall plate, similar to the ones used by your electric outlets.
7. I still have a wall-mounted ONT. How do I get a desktop unit?
We are contacting all our existing customers to schedule their upgrade to the new desktop fiber modems. If we have not yet reached you, please feel free to call our customer service representatives at 303-651-8386.
8. I have the old ONT, without a built-in router. How do I get one of the new ones?
Call our customer service representatives at 303-651-8386.
9. Why do I need a wireless router?
While a wireless router isn’t required to use NextLight on a single computer, having one can add to its versatility and is highly recommended. With a router in place, you can operate a computer – or multiple computers – from anywhere in your home, whether it’s a laptop in the bedroom or a smartphone in your pocket. Having a router also lets those computers communicate with each other and allows you an extra “firewall” of security between your home’s computers and the larger Internet.
A. Do I have to pay for a modem or router for my NextLight service?
Your modem – actually an optical network terminal or ONT – is free when you sign up for NextLight.
You have the choice of either providing your own wireless router, or of leasing an upgraded ONT that has a “wireless gateway” built in for $8.95 a month. A lease saves you the extra work of researching and purchasing a router, while also reassuring you that you can get a free replacement if the router fails.
If you do decide to purchase your own, a list of high-speed routers known to work well with NextLight can be found here.
B. How can I get the fastest speed from my NextLight connection?
Even with our gigabit service, the equipment used by the customer can make a difference. Three things to check in particular are the computer itself, the Ethernet cable (which is preferably Cat 5e or Cat 6) and, for wireless connections, the router used. We provide some more detailed information below, but makes and models can change quickly; it’s best to check with someone whose advice you trust to see if you’re up to speed. Click here to learn more.
C. Does NextLight have a ‘recommended vendor' list for any technology upgrades to my home or business?
We don’t. A NextLight team will install and activate your NextLight service but if you desire any additional improvements to your home network, please research your best options, just as you would for any purchase.
D. I have an Apple router and I can’t figure out how to set up my connection. What do I do?
Apple routers work well with NextLight once a few simple steps are followed. To get started:
Start the Apple program “Airport Utility.”
Log into your router.
Click on the “Network” tab.
In the list of settings, change Router Mode to “DHCP and NAT.”
Restart the router.
If you continue to have difficulties, please call our technical support personnel at 303-651-8386 for assistance.
E. I’m doing some renovations inside my home. How can I prepare my home to make a NextLight installation easier?
Since our NextLight team will be running fiber into your home, it can help to put in a half-inch conduit as a pathway for it. The conduit should start near the existing communication boxes on the outside of the house (such as for phone or cable service) and run to the “communication area” where you want the fiber to end up and the ONT to be installed (such as a den, office, or a basement communications room). Remember, there must be an electrical outlet in the room used by the ONT.
F. What time is my NextLight installation?
We will give you a four-hour time range to expect your installer: either 8 a.m. to noon, or noon to 4 p.m. This will be emailed to you in advance and we will also contact you the day before your appointment to verify the time. You may also call us at 303-651-8386 to double-check the appointment. If the installer is able to arrive sooner, he or she will call.
G. What time will the installer show up?
The installer will call you about 30 minutes before arriving.
H. Can I have the installation done at a specific time?
We cannot guarantee a particular time, though we can request it on the work order. The arrival time depends on a number of factors, including how long previous appointments have taken and where those other appointments are located. If you cannot make the appointment, we can reschedule.
I. Do I have to be home for the installation?
Yes. Before our installer can do any work, someone with responsibility for the property who is 18 years or older must be present – either you or a co-owner, roommate, spouse, or co-leasee. A friend, neighbor, or relative cannot meet the installer for you.
J. How do I prepare for my installation appointment?
If you are providing your own router, have it ready so you can use your new NextLight service right away. (If you will not be providing your own router, we will be glad to lease you one for $8.95 a month.) Otherwise, just make sure to be there during the time slot.
K. I have my own router. Can the installer set it up for me?
Due to liability issues, our installers cannot handle your own equipment. However, you can call our technical support staff for assistance at 303-651-8386.
L. I have my own router, but I’d rather lease one from NextLight. Can I make the switch?
Absolutely. Just call our customer-support representatives at 303-651-8386 and they’ll be glad to help you.
M. When will my pre-install appointment be completed?
Typically within three to five days of the scheduled installation appointment. This may vary depending on construction needs, and will sometimes be completed on the day before the installation. If you call us at 303-651-8386, we can verify the timing.
N. I didn’t ask for phone service when I scheduled my NextLight installation, but I want it now. Can I still add Digital Voice?
Yes, you can! If this will be a brand new phone number, we can install the service at the same time as your Internet connection. If you want to keep your old phone number, it usually takes us 10 to 15 days to “port” the number over to your new service. If your NextLight service will be installed before then, we will schedule a second visit to connect Digital Voice.
O. I have questions or concerns with how the pre-install was done. Who do I call?
Please call us at 303-651-8386 and we will make sure any issues get taken care of as quickly as possible.
P. Once NextLight has finished the outside “pre-install,” can I change my mind and cancel service before my scheduled installation?
Yes, but if you do, you forfeit any prepayments or deposits that have already been made. In addition, if a customer wants to move the TAP box after a pre-install has been completed, there will be a charge to do so. NextLight represents a significant community asset and it’s important that we recover any additional costs incurred in providing it to Longmont’s homes and businesses.
Q. If I have a wireless router, where is the best place to put it?
The specific location will depend on your equipment and your home’s layout. It’s usually best to place your router as close to the middle of your home as possible, so that you can get the signal distributed throughout the house.
Keep your router at desk height or higher. Routers on the floor generally perform poorly.
Routers in basements are not recommended as you may not get sufficient Wi-Fi signal to the floors above.
Keep your router at least three feet away from other computer components or electronic devices, such as DVD/Blu-ray players, cable TV boxes, TV sets, florescent lighting, or audio equipment.
Pay attention to other barriers in the straight line between the router and your device location. For example, signals can travel through a wooden desk easily, but can be blocked or impeded by a metal desk, appliances, metal wall decorations, mirrors, HVAC ducts, tile, or brick (such as fireplaces).
Try using a longer Ethernet cable rated at either Cat 5E or Cat 6 to test different locations in your house and see where a router would work best. Note that the maximum Ethernet cable length is 100 meters (328 feet).
If you still need assistance, please call our NextLight technical support team at 303-651-8386.
R. If I need my ONT in a different place after NextLight is installed, can LPC move it?
Yes, but there will be an installation fee charged for the additional work to cover our costs. Only the initial installation of a standard NextLight residential connection is free. Deciding where you want your ONT before service is installed will save you both time and money.
S. Can my ONT be placed behind the television, in case I want Layer3 TV or another viewing option?
We do not recommend putting the ONT behind or near the television. If the ONT has a built-in wifi router, or if an attached wifi router is nearby, the TV can shield the wifi and prevent optimum signal strength.
T. Will there be any charges for installing my NextLight service?
Our standard residential installation is free and typically follows the most direct route from the TAP box to the ONT inside your home. If additional work is required – such as an alternate underground path route, interior wall fishing, or installing extra wall jacks – there may be an installation charge as listed on our residential rate card.
U. If I have my lawn aerated, do I need to do anything to protect the fiber-optic line to my house?
No. We bury our lines below the standard depth for aeration equipment. If you believe the NextLight line on your property has been damaged for any reason, please call us at 303-651-8386.
NextLight: Offerings and Service Details
1. What is a gigabit?
A gigabit (or sometimes just “a gig”) is equal to 1,000 megabits. A gigabit per second – NextLight’s top residential speed – is fast enough to download the entire Harry Potter movie series in high definition in about 5 ½ minutes. By contrast, a 10 megabit per second connection, the minimum speed to be considered “broadband” in the U.S., would take more than eight and a half hours.
2. Is NextLight the only 100% fiber-optic network in Longmont?
Yes! NextLight is the only all-fiber network in Longmont. Some telephone and cable systems will include fiber as part of their architecture, but will use copper wire or coaxial cable to get from a central point to the home or business itself, reducing the speeds available to the customer. With NextLight’s 100% fiber network, there is no loss in speed or bandwidth.
5. Does NextLight offer traditional cable service?
We do not, but NextLight customers can get an exclusive deal on a high-definition and 4K television package from Layer3 TV, a Denver-based provider. For more information, go online to www.layer3tv.com/nextlight. In addition, our NextLight fiber system is ideal for viewing programming provided directly over the Internet, or “over the top,” which is available from a number of sources.
6. What about wireless? I heard the city provides free WiFi.
Longmont does have free WiFi service in some locations, including several parks – done in 2012 as a thank-you to local voters for freeing Longmont to offer broadband services – and at community events. Presently, free WiFi is available at Clark Centennial Park, Garden Acres Park, Kanemoto Park, Roosevelt Park, and Sandstone Ranch as well as the Longmont Library and on Main Street from First to Fourth avenues during downtown events.
Also, the City of Longmont offers free WiFi to qualified low-income customers through the “Digital Divide” program in cooperation with the St. Vrain Valley School District. Information on Digital Divide can be found here.
7. What is the “Subscriber Line Fee” that I see on my bill?
This FCC-approved fee is for local phone providers to recover some of the costs of building and operating a phone network. In the case of NextLight, it helps LPC cover the costs specifically related to Digital Voice. This fee is only charged to our Digital Voice customers.
8. What happens to Digital Voice if my power goes out?
Extended outages are rare for Longmont Power & Communications; our electric system has an average service availability of nearly 99.999%. As a precaution, your Digital Voice fiber-optic phone service comes with a battery backup to keep your telephone working – including your 911 emergency service. This backup is normally good for four to eight hours; when the battery needs to be replaced, your ONT “fiber modem” will automatically prompt us to call you and schedule a service call.
Remember, if the power does go out, call the LPC outage line at 303.776.0011 or the main office at 303.651.8386 so we can work to restore your power as soon as possible.
9. Does my business need more than one static IP address?
A single static IP address is usually sufficient, with each of a company’s services operating off of different “ports” on the same server. The cost goes up to reserve a block of addresses, so having more static IP addresses than you need can be expensive! To discuss whether your business needs additional addresses, contact Commercial Broadband Sales Coordinator Jon Keen at 303-651-8455.
A. What is a static IP address and does my business need one?
An IP address is a set of four numbers that allows your computer to be located on the internet. Most internet users have what’s called a dynamic IP address – a location that’s automatically assigned from a pool of available addresses when you log onto the network. For NextLight, this is true for all residential customers and many business ones.
But some businesses do need to be found at the same “place” every time by devices connecting from the outside. These companies purchase what is called a static IP address – a location that will use the same four-number grouping every time. This is an added cost, since there are only so many IP addresses to go around.
To discuss whether your business needs a static IP, and other features of your commercial service, contact Commercial Broadband Sales Coordinator Jon Keen at 303-651-8455.
B. Will my security system work with NextLight’s Digital Voice phone line?
Digital Voice is compatible with any alarm service that uses a standard phone line, such as security systems, fire alarms, or “life alert” services. Once your security system is operating on Digital Voice, call your vendor to verify that the system is working. As with any alarm, always perform periodic checks to make sure the system is still operational and in good repair. If you experience any difficulties, call your alarm vendor, or our own technical support representatives at 303-651-8386.
C. Why doesn’t NextLight offer its own television service?
Television audiences have been steadily shifting away from traditional programming and toward direct Internet viewership – also known as “over the top” content – which led us to decide against the additional investment required for a traditional television service. This left us well-positioned to take advantage of new options as they arose, such as our agreement with Netflix to store its most popular content locally, or the arrival of next-generation cable provider Layer3 TV with its exclusive offer to NextLight customers. The result is that customers who want to leave their old television provider have a number of choices for cutting the cord.
D. I saw a popup ad online, urging me to take a survey about NextLight or Longmont Power & Communications in exchange for a reward offer. Do you conduct surveys, and did this one come from you?
We do send out surveys to our electric and NextLight customers, but they are either mailed or emailed, and the email will come from “[email protected] via surveymonkey.” Our surveys include NextLight customer satisfaction surveys that are sent after an installation or a technical support call, and an annual survey about LPC’s electric and internet services.
These popup ads do not come from us and are not endorsed by us. Unsolicited surveys are common on the Internet, automatically filling in the name of the user’s service provider, and it is not unusual for them to be an identity theft scam. If you are uncertain about whether a communication came from us, please call us at 303-651-8386. To file a complaint about an online scam, call the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357 or go online to ftc.gov.
E. Will changes in “net neutrality” affect my NextLight service?
As a community-owned network, our customers come first. Regardless of any changes in FCC policy, we will continue to provide the same excellent service you’ve come to expect, without shuttling users and services into “fast lanes” and “slow lanes.” This is your NextLight, so you are our priority.
We do connect to a number of long-haul providers that tie Longmont’s local network into the larger internet. While those companies can choose to provide their services in any manner consistent with the regulations, they do not dictate Longmont’s policies.
NextLight: System planning and Network Construction
1. How much tax money was spent on NextLight?
None. Funding for Longmont Power & Communications comes from a city enterprise fund, meaning that LPC utilities each support themselves through the electric and broadband rates collected. By leveraging our excellent electric utility, we were able to obtain favorable interest rates for NextLight’s $45.3 million bond issue, reducing the overall cost of building the system. As with LPC’s electric utility, NextLight is expected to pay its own way through its own revenues.
NextLight: Turnoff/Moving/Cancellation of Service
1. If I end my NextLight service, do I have to return any equipment?
If you have a wall-mounted ONT, please call us at 303-651-8386 and we will schedule a time to remove the unit. If your ONT is a desktop modem, please follow the instructions found here. If you have Digital Voice phone service, you will also need to unplug and return your battery backup.
2. If I end my NextLight service and come back to it later, can I get my Charter Membership back?
No. To keep your 50% Charter Member discount, you have to continue to take the service and pay your monthly bill on time.