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June 26, 2023 2:36 pm MST

Democrats Bring High-Speed Internet Access to Rural Colorado

  • 17 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols
The internet, more or less

Roughly 10 percent of Colorado households DO NOT currently have access to high-speed internet services. Fortunately, help is on the way.

According to a press release from the office of Gov. Jared Polis, Colorado will soon be on the receiving end of more than $826 million dollars (and 41 cents) in federal money that will be used to build out high-speed internet infrastructure in parts of Colorado where people are still listening to that awful dial-up modem sound:

Today, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper and Colorado Governor Jared Polis welcomed the announcement from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) that Colorado was awarded $826,522,650.41 from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. The BEAD program is the largest broadband investment in American history, and provides funding to build essential infrastructure and connect communities to high-speed internet. The program is based on Bennet’s bipartisan BRIDGE Act, which was incorporated into the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law…

…The BEAD program provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment, and adoption programs in all 50 states and territories. The program prioritizes unserved and underserved locations that have no or very slow internet access. In Colorado, 10 percent of locations are unserved or underserved, and 190,850 households lack access to the internet. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the Colorado Broadband Mapping Hub.

The BEAD program is based on the bipartisan BRIDGE Act that Bennet introduced in June 2021 to provide $40 billion in flexible broadband funding to states, Tribal governments, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia to ensure all Americans have access to affordable high-speed internet.

Because we’re talking about a program created through legislation in Congress, there are a lot of acronyms — NTIA, BRIDGE, BEAD — to wade through in order to understand how and why this funding is coming to Colorado. But the short version, and really the only part you need to know, is this: You can thank the Infrastructure, Investment, and Jobs Act signed into law by President Biden in November 2021. 

Boebert, Buck, Lamborn: NO, NO, and NO on supporting legislation that enabled funding for expanding high-speed internet access in Colorado.

According to an issue brief from Pew Charitable Trusts:

Among many other provisions, the law established the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, the federal government’s most ambitious investment in high-speed, affordable internet to date. BEAD dedicates more than $42 billion to construct broadband networks, establish subsidies to offset the cost of internet service for lower-income households, and create programs to provide end users with the devices and training they need to use the new and upgraded networks. The BEAD Program also marks the first time the federal government is providing grants to states specifically for these purposes.

The Infrastructure, Investment, and Jobs Act was supported by all Democratic members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation (remember, these votes took place in 2021; current Reps. Brittany Pettersen and Yadira Caraveo were not in Congress at the time). All three Republicans in Colorado’s delegation — Reps. Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck, and Doug Lamborn — voted NO on the Infrastructure Act.

Boebert regularly voiced strong opposition to the Infrastructure Act, despite later trying to get federal funding for a bridge project in Glenwood Springs. It’s important to acknowledge all of this, since Boebert has a nasty habit of later trying to take credit for things that she opposed in Congress. Boebert’s penchant for pretending to deliver federal pork to her constituents in CO-03 even recently drew the public ire of the normally mild-mannered Sen. John Hickenlooper.

The odds are pretty good that Boebert will soon be pretending that she somehow helped bring the internet tubes to her aggravated constituents. She did nothing of the sort, though she probably SHOULD have supported the bill (along with her Republican colleagues Buck and Lamborn). As you can see from the map below, the parts of Colorado most in need of high-speed internet access also tend to be represented by the very same Republicans who make little to no effort to bring federal money for important projects back to Colorado.

Lighter colors correspond to lower availability of high-speed Internet access. Map via broadbandhub.colorado.gov.

Boebert, Buck, and Lamborn should instead have to explain to Coloradans why they stood in the way of needed infrastructure improvements — including high-speed internet access (although, to be fair, it’s not at all clear that Lamborn even knows about the internet). In the meantime, Coloradans can be thankful that elected Democrats continue to work on their behalf regardless.

Comments

17 thoughts on “Democrats Bring High-Speed Internet Access to Rural Colorado

  1. The war on rural Colorado continues. The sad thing is, some dolt like Jerry Sonnenberg says it, and people in rural Colorado believe it. When will they learn that Republicans don't do shit for them?

    1. My bad NOVGOP.  I posted without seeing yours first!  
       

      We enjoy fantastic broadband in Yuma County (and the entire service territory of Plains Cooperative Telephone Association) thanks to the grants and infrastructure programs of the Obama/Ritter era. 
       

      But, yeah: War!!!

  2. Unfortunately, most of those who are among the most impacted by this move will not be able to read about it — in part due to the lack of broadband coverage itself, and in part due to the editorial choices of many of the media companies with the most pervasive presence on the plains.

    1. From Frisch campaign after I shared this article with Adam;

      " Already on our socials and we will keep pushing it! Thanks for your email."

       

  3. Tonight, Heather Cox Richardson's Letter from an American led with:

    Today the Biden administration launched its “Investing in America” tour with the announcement of a $40 billion investment to make sure everyone in the United States has access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet by the end of the decade. Comparing the effort to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Rural Electrification Act during the New Deal, the White House noted today that 8.5 million households and small businesses live in areas without the infrastructure for high-speed internet, while millions more have limited or unreliable options (like me!). High-speed internet is no longer a luxury, the administration points out; it is not possible to participate equally in jobs, school, or healthcare, or to stay connected to family and friends without it (they didn’t mention shopping, but that’s an issue, now, too).

    The Rural Electrification Act, which connected almost all Americans to the electrical grid, was the federal government’s demonstration that all Americans should move together into the modern world. In the 1930s that meant access to the infrastructure that could power refrigerators, radios, and, for farmers, technologies like milking machines. It also meant jobs, and lots of them, for the people running the wires and installing new outlets and fixtures in homes across the country.

    The new internet investment mirrors that effort. It will provide more than $107 million to every state, with the top ten allocations going to Alabama, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington. It will also support both service jobs and manufacturing jobs, since the materials for the project will come from the United States.

    Yep … Red & Blue states all deserve to be a part of the common American community, with citizens able to equitably participate in our economy.

  4. Dear Boebs,

    Here’s hoping that god might someday direct you towards understanding that twenty-first century infrastructure won’t be largely about building gun ranges, border walls, oil pipelines, or installing golden toilets.

    Isn’t it ironic that 100% of Ttump’s bigly infrastructure efforts resulted in building just a couple of miles of laughably defective fencing and a bigly pile of boxes filled with classified secret documents in a basement shower stall?

  5. hmm…too late, and too little….but good for the Dems…DMEA, our rural electric co-op, did for us what no political person has done…in order to get high speed internet to my house, I had to first help rid this area of a government installed monopoly of a cable company…yep…there is a lot more to the story, but we had to first vote on a bill that removed the monopoly….then the co-op had to deal with other types of regulation that have been in place to protect the monopoly…a long process…then the phone company had to be dealt with…right of way access issues…etc…but after about five years, all of the legal roadblocks were removed, and a three hundred dollar up front cost, a lot of calls to installers, and I now have about the fastest internet that I can use…but we, as a community, had to fight the corporate influence and political corruption to do it, but we did…so, yeah…good for the rest of Colorado…

    1. DMEA is one of the finest REA’s in America. They are the embodiment of the cooperative principles. I’m dating myself, but not for them we (members of Tri-State G&T) would have had the multi-billion dollar Holcomb, KS coal plant boondoggle tied around our neck. Forever grateful for their authentic leadership.

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