Letter: Broadband improvements
I have just attended this year’s Mountain Connect conference in Vail where the theme was developing rural broadband infrastructure through public/private partnerships (PPP). The conference was excellent and well attended (+350) by Local Technology Planning Teams (LTPT), county officials and industry representatives from every corner of the state. They came together to hear from industry experts on the latest trends in technology and LTPT on their successes and lessons learned.
Gov. Hickenlooper’s staff announced at the conference that building broadband infrastructure throughout the state is their No. 1 economic development priority. Last fall the governor announced that the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) was making $20 million available to local governments for planning and building open access rural broadband infrastructure. The good news is DOLA has already committed or spent $19 million and is working with almost every part of rural Colorado, including Northwest Colorado, to put these funds to work. There are also substantial sources of funds available from the federal government to build broadband infrastructure for three of our most important entities: schools and libraries, hospitals and first responders.
Here in western Colorado, your counties, regional Council of Governments and LTPT are busy planning and building the broadband infrastructure needed for our future economy. Pitkin County has just received $150,000 from DOLA for network engineering and connectivity within the Roaring Fork Valley. In Steamboat Springs, our LTPT (Northwest Colorado Broadband Inc.) has used a PPP to built a carrier neutral location, purchased middle mile capacity for a group of community anchor institutions and seen their cost of broadband service drop by up to 90 percent. Our next step, in both cases, is to prepare a comprehensive broadband plans to identify the options for providing abundant, reliable and affordable service for all of our residents. Similar efforts are under way throughout the 12,000 square miles of Colorado Mountain College’s district.
There is still a lot of work left to do and we will need your help to be successful. Please watch for more details as we move forward.
Colorado Mountain College, trustee and representative to Northwest Colorado Broadband Inc.
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