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Colorado Gov. Touts Increase in Rural Broadband Access

The state wants 100 percent of households to have access to high-speed Internet, and toward that end it will put $155 million toward rural broadband expansion projects during the next five years.

Leaders in Colorado have whittled down the rural Internet access gap to 6 percentage points, according to the governor's office, with a goal of providing broadband Internet access to 92 percent of rural residents by June 2020.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ office announced Tuesday that rural coverage for high-speed broadband rose by 3 percent, a jump from 83 percent to 86 percent from October 2018 to April 2019.

Gov. Polis said high-speed Internet is now a necessity for people to thrive.

“Affordable and reliable broadband is critical to educating our youth, providing quality health care and keeping our residents safe,” he said in a statement.

A report released in March by the Federal Communications Commission stated 92 percent of Americans have access to high-speed Internet. However, companies like Microsoft and Pew Research found the number of people with access did not correlate to the number of Americans using broadband. Microsoft found that about 49 percent of people in the U.S. used high-speed Internet at home, while the Pew Research study estimated 65 percent.

The 3 percent increase in Colorado is due to completed expansion projects, which were primarily funded by the Department of Regulatory Agencies Broadband Fund grants and five years’ worth of investments by the Department of Local Affairs Broadband Grant program, according to the release.

Going forward, Colorado Broadband Office Executive Director Anthony Neal-Graves said the state will be investing $115 million during the next five years to grow the short-term goal of 92 percent rural access to 100 percent. Neal-Graves’ office coordinates and supports endeavors that will help the state provide universal broadband access.

“We are moving in the right direction to reach the June 2020 goal of providing 92 percent rural broadband access,” Neal-Graves said in a statement. 

Patrick Groves was a staff writer for Government Technology from 2019 to 2020.