(March 12) – A House committee gave initial approval this afternoon to a bill to help deliver more broadband internet service to rural Colorado.
SB18-002, sponsored in the House by Majority Leader KC Becker and Speaker Crisanta Duran, would send millions of dollars in broadband deployment grants to unserved parts of the state.
Starting in 2019 and increasing for the next four years thereafter, funding would come from the High Cost Support Mechanism, a surcharge that is currently used to support landline phone service in rural areas. The bill would shift that funding stream away from telephone poles and 19th-century technology and into fiber-optic cable and other 21st-century communications infrastructure.
“In many parts of rural Colorado, broadband services are inadequate and in some instances nonexistent,” said Majority Leader Becker, whose district stretches from Boulder to the Wyoming border. “This bill is about giving rural Colorado the ability to connect and compete with the rest of the state, the rest of the country and the rest of the world.”
“In our increasingly interconnected world, access to broadband has become essential to economic competitiveness,” Speaker Duran said. “Rural broadband development is an excellent way to expand opportunity in rural areas and close the economic divide between the Front Range and the rest of Colorado.”
SB18-002 passed the state Senate 31-4. Today’s 10-1 vote by the House Ag Committee sends the bill to the House floor.