Millions of dollars in annual subsidies for rural Colorado telephone lines would be phased out, with that money instead being used for building rural broadband, if a bill in the Colorado State Legislature wins final approval.
According to a report issued by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s Office of Information Technology, some 23 percent of Colorado residents currently lack access to broadband technology.
That lack is particularly great in large rural swaths of Colorado in both the southeast and northwest corners of the state.
Now, a bill being sponsored by Senators Don Coram and Johnny Sonnenberg would move dollars from what is called the High Cost Support Mechanism fund, which is designed to support utilities such as telephones in rural areas, to support the creation of broadband infrastructure.
Senate Bill 2, which has won the unanimous approval of the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee, would create a series of grants providing funding for telecomm providers to build networks in rural areas.
As proposed, 20 percent of the revenue in the High Cost Support Mechanism fund would be allocated to broadband projects over a period of 5 years, beginning next January 1.
The legislation is on its way to a full Senate vote.
By Garry Boulard
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