LOVELAND, Colo. (KDVR) — Access to broadband continues to be an issue in some communities across Colorado and the nation. Some leaders are trying to bridge the divide among communities through federal funding.
Colorado got a big investment to get everyone in the state connected to broadband. State leaders are celebrating a move that will bring more internet to more people across the state: a broadband access allocation of $826 million.
“We are going to have over 99% of Colorado homes connected with broadband in about three and a half years thanks to these resources,” Gov. Jared Polis said at a press conference Thursday, where he discussed plans to use the funding to help meet his goal of connecting most homes by the end of 2027.
The resources were made possible with funding from the Broadband, Equity, Access and Development, or BEAD, program that passed inside the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a big bill,” U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse said. “It will have an impact on our country for generations and there are many components of that bill that don’t necessarily have that direct Colorado connection that this piece of the bill does.”
The BEAD program stems from the Bridge Act, legislation spearheaded by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and reworked to get the program into law.
“It put the states in charge for the first time, for governors like Governor Polis. And in the bill, we quadrupled the speeds for new broadband networks so families, ranchers and businesses could have the speeds they need in the 21st century. It required networks that receive funding to have an affordable option. That would not have happened without this legislation,” Bennet said.
Congress allocated a minimum of $100 million for broadband to each state. The rest of the allocation is determined by how many underserved areas there are in the state.
“The money is not going, as it used to, to the large telecommunications companies for them to then deploy it as part of their service plan, which somehow always left rural America out, it always left rural Colorado out,” Bennet said.
Leaders are praising this effort as an example of a successful bipartisan partnership.