Underline Receives New Investment for Infrastructure To Connect Communities

Backed by venture investors, Underline adds global alternative investment manager, Ares Management, as a strategic investor to help scale network projects.

Underline, the nation’s intelligent community infrastructure platform, is connecting American communities on a foundation of open access fiber. In El Paso County Colorado—the company’s first market, where construction started in October 2021—Underline has connected the first residents, businesses, and anchor enterprise clients with differentiated service offerings and speeds up to 100 Gigabit symmetric.

To support existing projects and drive continued U.S. expansion, a fund managed by Ares Management’s Infrastructure Opportunities strategy (“Ares”) joins Underline as a strategic investor—adding a scaled global investment manager to the existing investor group. Underline is the first digital infrastructure investment Ares will make through its Infrastructure Opportunities strategy—a leading infrastructure investor with approximately $4.3 billion assets under management, as of June 30, 2022. Ares will support the Underline management in adding value to its offering and helping to optimize asset performance through their deep operational, construction, and development experience. Also participating in the round are existing investors FinTech Collective, a New York City based venture capital firm, and Revolution's Rise of the Rest Seed Fund. Truist Securities, Inc. served as sole financial advisor to Underline on the transaction.

Mike Roth, a Partner in Ares Infrastructure Opportunities strategy, said, “We believe climate and digital infrastructure are closely linked as access to the internet has become fundamental to educational, economic, and healthcare outcomes—similar to electricity or water. Ares is excited to work with Underline to drive positive social impact by offering communities more equitable access to quality information and connectivity infrastructure.”

Underline’s multi-purpose networks provide ultra-fast connectivity and also form the cyber secure foundation for modernizing critical community infrastructure. In Fountain, Colorado, Underline’s network and technology will serve the city utility by connecting substations, water pumps, and the utility control center, empowering and securing their municipal infrastructure. For other cities, community solutions might also include transportation and mobility, responsible energy and smart grid solutions, public safety service, and other “smart city” initiatives. 

“This is an entirely new model for multi-use community infrastructure. Underline’s open access fiber networks will help communities bridge the digital divide, modernize their water systems, and pursue necessary responsible energy initiatives—all without wasteful duplicative infrastructure,” said Bob Thompson, Underline Founder and CEO. “ In proving this model, we’re so excited to have assembled a unique group of investors, committed to ​​our mission to Connect America, one community partnership at a time.  As we expand around the U.S., we believe this first network in Colorado will serve as a model for other communities and network designers.”

Underline offers service to residential customers on full fiber connections with symmetric gigabit speeds for $65/month—no installation or equipment fees, no contracts, no data caps, and no forced bundles. In addition, Underline members can select their internet service provider (ISP) from a choice of three on the online Marketplace and can switch between them at ease. Transforming community connectivity must also include a plan to address the growing digital divide that presents a barrier to upward mobility for individuals and families. Underline’s Opportunity Program provides the standard tier of service—500/500 Mbps— at no cost, for households that qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program, and symmetric gigabit service for $35/month. 

The Catalyst Campus for Technology & Innovation is the first open access 100 Gigabit client in the state of Colorado. In addition to Enterprise Grade DIA (Dedicated Internet Access), access to Underline’s unique network architecture and technology stack empowers Catalyst Campus to offer Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) and access to high density edge computing power over a private Layer-2 connection to its Defense and GovTech tenants and clients.

“Catalyst Campus is a technology leader and we provide solutions for our partners to be the best-in-class collaboration and innovation ecosystem. Underline will be a critical, long-term partner as we undertake this important and valuable mission”, said Kevin O’Neil, Founder of Catalyst Campus. “I am pleased that we are the first location in Colorado to be able to offer a 100 Gig network and continue to look for opportunities to provide cutting-edge solutions to our campus partners.” 

A number of other local enterprise businesses have also joined the network: Altia has chosen Underline as its long term connectivity and technology partner; The Colorado Springs Airport Peak Innovation Park will connect to offer transformative connectivity to tenants; and Bluestaq will join the network to support its large-scale expansion in the area. University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS), the National Cybersecurity Center (NCC), and Space ISAC were already early partners and clients to which Underline provides both fiber connectivity and technology solutions. 

“This first of its kind fiber network is transformative for Colorado Springs and impacts our businesses, our at-home workers, and our expansive economic development goals. Underline’s ultra fast, cybersecure connectivity and technology capacity will boost our work to attract and retain top talent, successful companies, and business investment,” said Johnna Reeder Kleymeyer, President and CEO, Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC. “This network also represents a significant upgrade for our small businesses and is critical to the continued success and growth of our community.”

About Underline

Underline is the nation’s intelligent community infrastructure platform. Underline works with communities across the United States to design, finance, construct, and operate open access fiber-optic networks. These multi-purpose networks are the essential foundation for ultra-fast and equitable access to information, a competitive market for content and services, economic development, distributed healthcare services, new wireless solutions, and resilient modernized infrastructure including updated water systems and responsible energy creation. Underline is backed by investors  including FinTech Collective, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund,  Ares Management, Fantail Ventures, Quanta Capital, Emerson Collective, Seavest Capital, and several private family offices. Underline is here to open the possibilities of tomorrow—to underline the vitality of every community in the country. For more information and to start a conversation, visit underline.com. 

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