State awards $2.1 million in grants to bring broadband to rural Colorado communities
DENVER (Jan. 10, 2017) — The Broadband Deployment Board within the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) announced that it has awarded $2.1 million in grants in an effort to close the broadband internet service gap between rural and urban Colorado communities.
Seven recipients were awarded grant funding for eight infrastructure projects that will be completed over the next two years. As a result, over 4,700 households and 175 businesses in Eagle, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Lake, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray, Prowers, Sedgwick and Weld counties will benefit from Broadband Internet access.
This is the first award cycle of the fund, which was created in 2014 and received its first in a series of grant award money last year.
Grants provided by the Broadband Deployment Board are a key component of the State’s strategic effort to bring broadband access to every Colorado resident.
“Broadband access is a critical service for Colorado communities, especially in supporting economic development," said Gov. Hickenlooper. “These grants will bring more than broadband services to many unserved communities; they will also grow opportunity for their local businesses and residents.”
The grant program is competitive, and funding is considered for projects that are cost-effective and provide substantial benefits to currently unserved communities. Recipients of these awards will provide broadband service, defined as least 25-megabits download and 3-megabits upload, at a reasonable cost to the consumer.
According to the 2015 Federal Communications Commission report Broadband Availability in America, 71 percent of Coloradans living in rural areas lack access to broadband internet compared to just 10 percent in urban areas.
“Access to broadband internet service is vital to rural communities,” said DORA Executive Director Joe Neguse. “Broadband provided through the Board’s grant awards will expand access to much needed services, such as healthcare through telehealth initiatives and education curriculum and support for students in rural communities. The grant funds also support economic development, as many communities have businesses that increasingly rely on broadband access for selling products and accessing cloud-based business services.”
The Board awarded the following grants.
Nucla-Naturita Telephone Company (awarded $43,334)
The project will upgrade wireless network equipment supplying Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) customers with broadband access in the Nucla area.
NE Colorado Cellular, Inc. dba Viaero Wireless (awarded $395,492)
Construction of two new towers and installation of equipment to provide wireless broadband access within a 334 square mile coverage area in Kiowa, Prowers, and Cheyenne Counties.
Chaffee County Telecom LLC, dba Colorado Central Telecom (awarded $288,338)
The project will provide last-mile service to approximately 425 households in Twin Lakes and unincorporated areas of southern Lake County. The expansion consists of wireless service utilizing a proposed new tower and two other sites.
CenturyLink Inc. ($841,200 grant)
The project will upgrade DSL equipment and associated fiber optic cable to provide Broadband service to the Town of Ridgway serving approximately 1,000 customers.
CenturyLink Inc. ($299,156 grant)
The project will upgrade DSL equipment and associated fiber optic cable to provide Broadband service to approximately 1,000 locations in and near Hudson and Keenesburg in Weld County.
PC Telcorp, Inc., dba PC Telcom (awarded $55,400)
The project will upgrade existing wireless equipment at two locations providing broadband access to approximately 392 households in Sedgwick County.
Optimus Communications LLC (awarded $112,500)
The project will use existing cable infrastructure to provide broadband in Collbran and Molina. Wireless service will be provided to customers in the surrounding areas that aren’t accessible by the cable system. The system will support approximately 1,500 broadband customers over cable and 400 broadband customers over wireless.
Futurum Communications Corporation, dba Forethought.net, Brainstorm Internet (awarded $70,103)
The project will construct middle-mile infrastructure to an existing tower and provide last-mile wireless service to approximately 109 households in the Town of Red Cliff.
Additional information on the Broadband Fund grant program is available at dora.colorado.gov/broadband-fund.