Rural Colorado Could Have Better Internet Access Under Proposed Law

Feb 5, 2018

Credit LARS P / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Approximately one-quarter of rural Colorado households have no access to broadband internet, making it difficult to compete for residents or businesses, but a proposal to help bridge that gap is gaining traction in the legislature.

As The Denver Post reports, Senate Bill 2, which would overhaul a state telecom fee to prioritize funding for broadband infrastructure, earned bipartisan approval last week from a state Senate panel, which voted unanimously to approve the measure that would provide over $75 million over the next five years for broadband deployment grants in underserved areas.

A fee charged to telephone ratepayers called the High Cost Support Mechanism would fund the grants, beginning with 20 percent of those funds being earmarked for broadband in 2019 and then increased by 20 percent increments until 2021, when the fee is supposed to expire.

Senate President Jerry Sonnenberg said it is the legislature’s intent to get rural broadband in place and do away with the tax on Coloradans’ phone bills.