DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado’s broadband advisory board released its first ever report on its work, started by Gov. Jared Polis to keep an eye on broadband during the pandemic.
Now, they are looking into how they can keep up the momentum from here.
At the height of the pandemic, Polis signed an executive order to create a broadband advisory board. It highlighted ways the state is working to make high-speed internet more accessible, including a new law that will help families pay for internet.
“We are grateful for support from the federal government to deploy broadband across the state,” said Rep. Dylan Roberts, who sponsored the bill. “The legislation we passed makes sure funding for rural broadband access, as well as low-income families, was prioritized. That’s what this grant program does: allow low-income families and rural Coloradans to apply for a little more help.”
The program will be available for families who qualify for reduced lunch programs at school starting next year. The state also made a move to invest $75 million to boost broadband around the state.
Others are doing their part to help increase access as well, like the City of Longmont, which is offering relief to families and school.
“We also in 2020 began introducing discounts for income qualified customers and customers struggling with the pandemic,” said Scott Rochat, public information officer for the city’s power and communications division, about Longmont’s NextLight Internet. “This is something that’s important to people. It’s important to us and it’s important to us that it be done right.”
Colorado’s broadband report found that 60,000 households with K-12 students in Colorado do not have stable internet access, and more than 150,000 families do not have a computer at home, making both targets for lawmakers to tackle.
“We need to recognize: When we’re talking about broadband, we aren’t just talking about connecting people to the internet. It’s more basic than that. We need to recognize not everyone has access to a computer or the most up to date technology,” Roberts said.
He told FOX31 the new laws will help put these devices in the hands of families who need it in hopes of leveling the playing field for all Coloradans.
For more information, visit the Colorado Broadband Advisory Board.