Legislation designed to promote the construction of high-speed broadband in rural parts of Colorado has won the overwhelming approval of the Colorado State Senate on a 30 to 5 vote.
Sponsored by Senators Don Coram and Jerry Sonnenberg, the bill will transfer some 60 percent of an existing statewide telephone subsidy fund to be used by any companies undertaking to build broadband infrastructure.
That subsidy received around $38 million in revenue from residential phone bills last year. As proposed, the bill would draw from the subsidy fund for a period of 5 years, providing more than $100 million in available support.
Advocates of the legislation have said that access to high-speed broadband in rural Colorado is an economic development issue.
Coram has remarked that by having that access, residents in those rural areas will be “participants rather than spectators in a booming economy.”
Senate Bill 2 specifically stipulates that the funding can only be applied to broadband projects in cities with a population of 7,500 people or less.
Supporters of the legislation acknowledge that it is only a start. Experts have estimated that it will eventually cost upwards of $500 million to completely build out the needed broadband infrastructure in rural Colorado.
By Garry Boulard
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