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It's almost fiber time.

On June 16, Longmont Power & Communications will open bids to build out its citywide fiber-optic network. Four companies have submitted bids on the project to date; the city wants the winner to begin mobilizing July 1, with plans to begin construction by August.

Pre-qualified bidders on the project are Henkels & McCoy, MasTec, MP Nexlevel and TCS/Fiber Technologies.

Once underway, LPC is hoping to push the pace. The official plans call for the network to be finished in 2017, but director Tom Roiniotis said he knows people are impatient.

"We're going to do everything we can to accelerate that if possible," he said.

The eagerness, of course, is about speed. Once the network is up, the plan is to sell new residential customers a one-gigabit-per-second upload and download speed for a "charter member rate" of about $50 a month. That's fast enough to download an entire high-definition movie in less than a minute.

The core of the system is a 17-mile loop built by the city in 1997. (Changes in state law prevented a full citywide rollout until Longmont voters lifted the restrictions in 2011.) But the details of getting from that loop to a home or business have seen a lot of refinement.

For example, there's the "pedestal" needed to receive the signal. Up until last week, it looked like that would mean a three-foot-tall box in the yard, towering over similar stands for cable or other services. Then, last week, a more discreet option came up — a green, 18-inch-high stand, able to hold the "splitter" for the fiber-optic signal without drawing a lot of attention.

A final decision has yet to be made, but Roiniotis said he likes having a smaller alternative.

"I told folks 'This (taller pedestal) is going to be the bane of my existence for the next three years if we do it," Roiniotis said.

LPC is also putting in a new billing system and has begun to hire the additional workers needed for the new utility. At its peak, that may be as many as 35 new workers, but many of those will be temporary and contract employees. By year 5, Roiniotis said, that should be down to 27 new employees.

Construction is scheduled for six phases, starting with south-central Longmont, the closest area to LPC itself, in August and then proceeding into central Longmont by early 2015.

At that pace, 11,147 of LPC's 39,061 customers could have the option to get fiber service within a year of the start of construction. From there, the plan is:

• Phase 3: Eastern Longmont, work to begin in the third quarter of 2015.

• Phase 4: Northern and northeastern Longmont, work to begin in the first quarter of 2016.

• Phase 5: Northwestern Longmont, work to begin in the third quarter of 2016.

• Phase 6: Southwestern Longmont, work to begin in the first quarter of 2017.

All those dates are approximate and could be affected by weather or other conditions.

"We want to do it fast," Roiniotis said. "But we want to do it right."

Contact Times-Call staff writer Scott Rochat at (-REDACTED-) or srochat@times-call.com