Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Remote Colorado Counties Rally for Broadband Coverage

Today's blog comes from Anthony (Tony) Neal-Graves, the executive director of the Colorado Broadband Office. Tony is responsible for driving the state’s broadband strategy and utilizing public and private sector relationships in communities across the state to support broadband expansion.

Pagosa Springs, Colorado
A wonderful benefit of my job is travelling around the state to work with local communities. Hinsdale and Archuleta counties presented one of those great opportunities. On my way to visit Pagosa Springs and Lake City, I saw some of the most beautiful scenery in the state. On the drive between the towns I passed a sheep farmer in Mineral County, with his five sheep dogs, herding an entire flock down the middle of the road. How many places are you going to get to see sheepherding? Hinsdale County is one of the most remote counties in Colorado and the United States; it is the least densely populated county in Colorado and is mostly (97%) made up of public land.

These remote counties have the same need for broadband access as any other community in the state. The wilderness and national forests attract large populations every year to enjoy the outdoor experience through camping, hunting, and fishing. Each year the expectation to be connected while experiencing nature continues to grow. Access for public safety services in critically important. Finally, these communities want to attract businesses and robust, high-speed, internet access is a must-have.

Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County are partnering with southern Hinsdale County to develop a strategic plan for ubiquitous broadband within the region. Archuleta County also participates in the Southwest Colorado Access Network (SCAN) project, a regional broadband plan for the Southwest Colorado Council of Governments (SWCCOG). Hinsdale County is active in Region 10 and the planning/development efforts led by that organization. Hinsdale needs to hold a SB152 election in order to be able to move from planning to execution for the county.

Bringing high-speed broadband to this region will enhance the tourist experience of this picturesque area of the state. More importantly, it will be a catalyst for sustainable economic development.

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