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The State of Colorado's Internet

Now that Referred Measure 2H has passed, we’re working on what comes next.

We wanted to share an update on some of the state-level work that is going on now. Here is a link to the Governor’s Broadband Initiatives Report from October 2020. Here are some of the highlights (everything that is underlined is a direct quote from the report):

The State’s Vision for Broadband

Coloradans should have equal access to affordable, fast, and reliable broadband service.

To keep our economy competitive and strong, we need to continue to make the necessary investments in essential services and infrastructure. High capacity broadband is no less an essential service that is vital to our state’s economic success. Colorado’s broadband infrastructure must allow the state to compete in the global economy, ensuring all residents can participate in the digital age regardless of zip code. New and emerging applications, services, and technologies (like smart grids, virtual classrooms, telehealth, and precision agriculture) demand more bandwidth than is available in most areas of the state.

All Coloradans should be able to access the information and services only broadband networks can provide. This means:

  1. making fiber to the premises universally available;
  2. increasing price affordability;
  3. creating equitable access so that none of our communities are being left behind;
  4. enabling access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization;
  5. ensuring local broadband networks have the right and obligation to non-discriminatory interconnection with other broadband networks; and
  6. expanding publicly owned or leased middle mile infrastructure to support regional plans.

They’ve adopted the Federal definition of broadband - 25 Mbps download speed/3 Mbps upload speed (25/3Mbps). But in the report, they acknowledge that this might not be the best definition and that they want to make sure we set goals that work for Colorado, so if we need faster minimum speeds we will get those. The Denver Internet Initiative recommends nothing below 100 Mbps, so hopefully we’ll see a state-level definition of this speed or higher.

Broadband Recommendations

The report outlines some changes that should be made in four categories, we’ve summarized them here.

Governance:

Broadband projects need to be centralized, instead of fragmented over many different organizations. All broadband related information (projects, statistics, etc) from the different organizations involved should all be put onto one website. The Office of Future of Work (OFOW) will create a subcommittee to focus on digital literacy and inclusion.

Data Accuracy:

Provide Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) with statutory authority to require granular data from all internet service providers (ISPs) operating in Colorado. The data collection process and data requirements should be determined by OIT and revised as necessary to reflect changes in technology to ensure the accuracy of propagation models and to improve the usefulness of the coverage maps.

Provide OIT with funding for improving the state’s broadband mapping efforts including expertise, software, and supplemental data (such as speed test and infrastructure data).

Right now, data reporting from ISPs is voluntary, so our data is pretty bad. These new rules would make it a requirement and also specify what data needs to be reported and how. We need to understand the problem well before we can fix it efficiently.

Sustainable Funding:

Provide the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CoPUC) with statutory authority to replace the Colorado High Cost Support Mechanism (CHCSM) 2.6% fee on voice service with a flat connection fee on any connection that can originate voice calls.

We have a fee structure that doesn’t meet our current funding needs for broadband. There are some other points in this section that go into more detail of the specifics, but the short is we need to modernize our funding structure.

Future Technology:

Consider designating broadband as a utility within the state and managed as a regulated service.

Promote policies and programs to encourage owners of fiber infrastructure, both public and private, to make fiber transport assets accessible and affordable and incentivise open access and public-private partnerships for future infrastructure investments.

This is what we like to see, making broadband a utility statewide! The State is starting to realize that the Internet is very important and can’t be left to “market forces” because those forces will exclude poor folks and marginalized populations, as they do now. Please help us make sure Denver residents have the Internet access they deserve.

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