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Colorado Gov. Establishes Broadband Board Via Executive Order

Gov. Jared Polis ordered the creation of Colorado's Broadband Advisory Board last week. The board is intended to enhance interagency collaboration and collect information on digital inclusion and literacy.

The Colorado state capitol.
Damon Shaw/Shutterstock
Gov. Jared Polis created the Broadband Advisory Board via executive order Friday, with the goal of improving interagency coordination around efforts to bring high-speed Internet to all Coloradans.

Polis’ order was based on a recommendation from a Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) report, which follows Pew Charitable Trusts' research regarding the importance of engaging all relevant broadband players. 

“The board will provide the cohesive voice that is more important than ever,” reads the OIT report. “The board will also drive engagement and relationships with the private sector. Through coordination and collaboration, the board can bring together communities, private sector investors, and identify funding sources to cover project costs, increasing the feasibility of projects in areas that traditionally do not provide a high enough ROI for investors.”

The report makes several observations about the current needs of broadband stakeholders. In one section, the document suggests that the Federal Communications Commission’s definition of broadband (25 Mbps download speed/3 Mpbs upload speed) is outdated in 2020. 

“[H]ouseholds today have multiple computers and smart devices that support two-way communication, such as video conferencing and gaming applications, that require exponentially greater amounts of bandwidth as each family member concurrently engages in elearning, remote working, and telemedicine video applications, easily exceeding the 3 Mbps upload definition,” the report said. “Our definition and policies must be updated to support the actual bandwidth needs of Coloradans.”

The report points out that inaccurate or limited data makes it difficult to identify who needs high-speed Internet within a given geographic area. Colorado has an initiative called the Colorado Broadband Data and Development Program, which collects coverage data from Internet service providers (ISPs). Although such data is supposed to “direct funding and resources to areas of Colorado that are truly unserved,” there are significant gaps in the data, which means the information often can’t be trusted. 

“Since participation in the program is voluntary, the CBDDP team cannot compel ISPs to participate in the program, let alone submit the granular data necessary to create an accurate statewide map,” the report said. “The CBDDP team is forced to accept imprecise data in order to prompt participation from as many providers as possible. Many Colorado ISPs opt to simply forward their FCC Form 477 census block data rather than supply the granular data requested by the CBDDP team.”

As such, the report advises the state to give OIT “statutory authority to require granular data from all ISPs operating in Colorado and providing OIT with the tools to ensure compliance with the requirements.”

The report also recommends more funding for Colorado’s broadband mapping program. Some states have found that high-speed Internet maps can be a difference-maker when it comes to acquiring federal money. 

Jed Pressgrove has been a writer and editor for about 15 years. He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in sociology from Mississippi State University.