Waterloo Fiber has put together some Frequently Asked Questions and Answers to give you more details about the project.

Frequently Asked Questions


1What is Waterloo Fiber?
A city-owned and operated internet service provider that was overwhelmingly approved by local voters. The Waterloo Municipal Communications Utility (MCU) was established in 2005 by the voters of Waterloo. The vision of the voters was to deploy a locally owned, controlled and operated telecommunications utility and ubiquitous fiber-optic network – Waterloo Fiber – to connect every home, business and institution in Waterloo, modeled off the experience of neighboring Cedar Falls Utilities. Waterloo Fiber is making sure everyone will have the opportunity to access fast, reliable internet at their homes and businesses. While the Board of Trustees had studied broadband and fiber-optic services for many years, in 2020/2021 given the increased need for internet service during the COVID-19 shutdown and the need for broadband improvements, the City of Waterloo and the Waterloo MCU decided to move forward with a city-wide buildout. This buildout is supported by federal and state funding, as well as local funding passed by the voters again in 2022 when they approved a GO BOND referendum supporting the project’s deployment. The city is also deploying a fiber-optic backbone to connect every city site, facility and important public space, as well as supporting numerous third-party community partners, such as Waterloo WaterWorks, Mid-American and Waterloo Schools.
2What is Waterloo building?
Waterloo’s fiber-optic broadband project is structured as two sub projects. Project One is construction of a fiber backbone to support the city’s municipal operations, including utilities, traffic, public safety and future smart city initiatives that use information and communication technologies to increase operational efficiency. Project Two is the build out and delivery of next-generation fiber-to-the-home/premise (FTTH/FTTP) services, enabling high-speed internet access to every home and business throughout Waterloo.
3What is the timeframe for the FTTH buildout and projected completion?
Waterloo will begin building out the network beginning in Q2 2023. The first FTTH/FTTP customers are projected to be connected in the last quarter of 2023. The entire project is expected to take three years.
4I have already received information about signing up for available fiber broadband in my area. Is this Waterloo Fiber?
NO! Waterloo Fiber will be available later this year (2023). There will be fiber broadband in the area from competitors, but you will not receive the benefits from it that you will experience by being a Waterloo Fiber customer. Our customers will be able to select the fastest fiber internet speeds in the area at competitive prices. Additionally, we are local. The Waterloo Fiber team lives in the community we serve, while our leadership does as well, meaning you are getting the same first-class products and services that our own team uses. Keep in mind, the dollars invested in Waterloo Fiber stay in the community since we are the community we serve. If it doesn’t say Waterloo Fiber Internet, it’s not us!
5Why should I get broadband service from Waterloo?
The high-speed service will offer locally-based customer service at an affordable rate. Waterloo’s FTTH (Fiber To The Home) service will be reliable, affordable and backed by your local, trusted utility, and the City of Waterloo. First and foremost, we are accountable to our community instead of corporate shareholders so you will receive more responsive service and local control. Subscribers’ money stays in the community, paving the way for future technological and community enhancements that will strengthen Waterloo’s quality of life and its economic development potential.
6Why is Waterloo investing in this project?
The residents spoke, and we listened! About 10 years ago, voters approved our municipal utility to provide internet service. After addressing various factors, voters approved funding for the project in 2021, and now we are ready! Bringing this network to fruition will provide a level playing field for everyone in our community to have access to high-speed, secure internet service.
7How is this project being funded?
Funding for the Waterloo Fiber project will come from various sources, including the federal American Rescue Plan, a federal grant provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, along with a GO Bond that was approved in a 2022 referendum by Waterloo voters. City departments, including Waterloo Water Works, and other utilities also are funding portions of the project.
8Who will receive service from this project?
The fiber backbone is benefiting city offices and services, while the FTTH/FTTP portion of the network will provide fiber internet access to residential and commercial business areas.


1What is a fiber-optic network?
Fiber optics are flexible strands of glass that transmit light signals to carry data. This results in faster internet speeds and greater reliability then traditional copper transmission lines. Most internet service providers use some fiber in their systems but use copper lines for the final connections to residences and businesses. This results in slower speeds. A fiber-to-the-home/premise (FTTH/FTTP) system delivers the same high speeds throughout the network to the home or business.
2What are the technological benefits of using fiber optics?
Fiber-optic networks send and receive high amounts of data extremely fast. They also are more reliable – less susceptible to interference and damage from lightning and other acts of nature and natural disasters.
3What is “broadband”?
Broadband is a high-speed, high-capacity transmission method. It commonly refers to high-speed internet access. Broadband fiber-optic networks deliver data, voice and video services over the internet.


1What exactly makes fiber “futureproof”?
Service providers might tell you they have fiber networks, but they might be using fiber and copper. Fiber might be the backbone of the network, but copper lines will be the last portion going to your home. Copper networks are old technology built to carry voice (phone) and video (one-way). They cannot handle the demands of data-driven applications that everyone uses in their daily lives. Fiber networks are futureproof because they have an almost unlimited ability to support transporting huge amounts of bandwidth over long distances. Waterloo Fiber will provide an all-fiber network to your home or business.
2How will I benefit from using fiber-optic broadband?
Overall, fiber broadband is better for data transmission than traditional copper lines. When considering the installation of a fiber network, benefits include:

Speed - Residential speeds of fiber broadband service customarily go up to 100 Mbps, enabling better video streaming for example. For a business, the faster speeds from fiber broadband can increase productivity as employees no longer spend time waiting for large files and videos to upload and download, enabling them to address more business opportunities in a shorter amount of time.

Bandwidth - Bandwidth availability – the maximum amount of data transmitted over an internet connection in a given amount of time – is significantly higher on a fiber-optic network, and the speed does not decrease when network demand is high. This enables more people – in both residential and business environments – to use the network simultaneously without seeing degradation in the service.

Reliability - Fiber-optic networks are stronger than copper transmission lines and not as susceptible to inclement weather or natural disasters. They are resistant to human or electrical interference unless the fibers are physically cut.

Signal Strength - The signal strength over fiber optics does not degrade as quickly as it does via DSL, Ethernet or copper cable. This is extremely beneficial in large spaces, such as offices, where equipment is located throughout a large area.

Symmetric Speed – equal upload and download times on an internet connection – can result in improved productivity for businesses as multiple people connect and transfer data simultaneously.

Latency - Fiber optics eliminates latency issues – the delays that occur while processing data over an internet connection. This translates into better voice quality via VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) for phone calls and video calls; the ability to move more data to the cloud; downloads and uploads of huge files without interruption; and improved collaboration between parties.

Security - Since fiber-optic communication is done by sending data as pulses of light across thin strands of glass. In addition to moving data more rapidly as speeds approaching the speed of light, it makes data signals much hard for hackers to intercept.

Cost Savings - Faster internet increases productivity and reduces downtime, and that leads to cost savings for businesses.


1Why is Waterloo building out fiber-optic internet?
Providing city-owned fiber broadband internet service creates competition with the other service providers in the area, improves municipal services – such as better utility monitoring – and helps keep costs down for reliable high-speed internet. Having a city-owned broadband network will give more communities access to this advanced technology. The city sees it as in important asset for economic development, driving more growth and job opportunities throughout the coverage area.
2Why should I get broadband service from Waterloo?
Waterloo’s FTTH service will be reliable, affordable and backed by your local, trusted utility. First and foremost, we are accountable to our community instead of corporate shareholders so you will receive more responsive service and local control. Subscribers’ money stays in the community, paving the way for future technological and community enhancements that will strengthen Waterloo and its economic development.
3How much will fiber internet service cost?
Residents can take advantage of receiving 1 gigabit service or have the option of signing up for 10 gigabit service. Customers will be able to stream high-definition media quickly and without hiccups; have the capacity to download and upload files, photos and videos at lightning-fast speeds; and access the latest cutting-edge technologies and applications.

Additionally, Waterloo will participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) – a U.S. government program that helps low-income households pay for broadband service and internet connected devices. Click here to get more information and see if your household is eligible.
4Does it matter where I live in Waterloo?
All neighborhoods in Waterloo will have equal access to the high-speed, unlike some internet service providers that only provide coverage in certain areas.


1How long with the network construction take in my neighborhood?
Network construction timelines vary based on numerous factors, including number of route miles to be built, number of premises targeted for connection and general deployment matters. Waterloo Fiber will provide information and updates to residents as the construction period for their area nears and throughout the process.
2What can I expect during the construction phase in my neighborhood?
Once all utility lines are located and marked, the construction crew will dig along public right-of-ways and easements to lay the conduit (the tube that houses the fiber lines). Then multiple strands of fiber will be pulled through the conduit, giving each customer their own dedicated line on the network. Keep in mind, some easements may be located on residential property.
3How much damage will be done to the neighborhood and my yard during construction?
Construction can be disruptive, but the Waterloo Fiber team is working to make the entire process as smooth as possible for all involved. You will be notified ahead of time when construction is scheduled to begin. Additionally, our teams will do everything possible to be minimally invasive on your property and will clean up after construction and leave your neighborhood and lawn as close as possible to its pre-construction state. If at any time you have a question or concern, please call us.
4When will the service be available?
Fall 2023

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