High-speed Internet for every home and business in this country — despite efforts by administrations on both sides of the aisle — has been elusive for the past 20 years, until now. Thanks to the incredible work of leaders like the Biden administration and US Sens. John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet; Colorado and the rest of America have a historic opportunity to close its digital divide once and for all.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Package allocates $65 billion to connect the remaining 6% of American homes without high-speed Internet access, including some in rural and remote areas of Colorado. More than 6% of Coloradans (approximately 350,000 residents) do not have access to broadband, according to BroadbandNow. It is critical to ensure a portion of the historic investment is allocated to underserved Coloradans.
As an educator and member of the Adams 12 Five Star Schools Board of Education; I have seen first-hand the effects of the pandemic on learning for students across our state. Some students have parents or caregivers who can stay home with their children, but most parents have parents or caregivers who help with online and home study, pay their rent or mortgage, and provide food. The crunch is left on the table for families to act as both a distance learning assistant and a provider for their families.
In addition, Many families do not have access to broadband internet, which has reached epidemic proportions. Because of this, students were forced to walk to the school parking lot and connect to the school’s Internet to continue attending school.
Now that we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to level the digital playing field, we need the federal government to remove barriers to success: Our elected leaders in Colorado can ensure their efforts are as intended by our update. A country’s outdated pole access regulations. successful Rapid broadband expansion will require much-needed changes to utility pole access.
Utility poles play an important role in our communications infrastructure, and this becomes even more true with our increasing reliance on the Internet. For untapped areas — communities that don’t have access to any high-speed Internet infrastructure — the most efficient way to get them online is to connect their technology to Internet service providers on existing poles.
However, Most broadband providers do not own utility poles. small appliances; cooperative groups; Electric companies and other organizations do. Therefore, Service providers get permission to access the poles and pay a fee to install their technology.
All would be well if there was a function system that could access and control the peripherals.
Unfortunately, The permitting process can be complex and opaque. Not all pole owners share the same sense of urgency for broadband access as underserved Coloradans. Carriers have shown a willingness to pay for the costs associated with their new pole, but in some cases; Disputes arose over the cost of access. These disputes can go on for months before they are heard and subsequently resolved.
Without a system for resolving disputes or fast-tracking access; This process leaves unserved communities stranded without Internet access, and distance learning, They can eliminate critical services, including telehealth and others that require them.
Rural Americans are 10 times more likely to have access to broadband than those in urban areas. To put this into perspective: 6% of the country as a whole does not have access to broadband infrastructure, but that rises to over 24% in rural areas. In addition, more than one in six poor people do not have access to the Internet.
Coloradans and Americans need transparency and solutions to reform an outdated system; Otherwise, the millions of Americans who would be helped by the infrastructure bill will face the same connectivity challenges that have held them back for generations.
Congress can use this opportunity to bring high-speed Internet to every home and business so it can build a respectable infrastructure business by working to accelerate access to poles and resolve disputes over pole replacements. Many Americans are counting on our leaders to connect. Congress should quickly adopt clear rules to resolve disputes between pole owners and service providers, and not unnecessarily delay the expansion of broadband infrastructure.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes a big promise to finally get high-speed Internet to every home and business. We need leaders in Washington like Sens.
Lori Goldstein lives in Westminster.
The staff at Out West Books recommends your next great read.
For some spooky Halloween delights, the folks at Out West Books recommend “Trail of Lightning,” “Boneshaker,” and “Cold as Hell.”
“Colorado on the Cheap”: Choosing Life Off the Grid in the San Luis Valley.
“Cheap Land Colorado” author Ted Conover explains why understanding the San Luis Valley’s “apartment” subculture is important…
Ongoing: Colorado is expected to follow a slight improvement in the U.S. economy’s third quarter.
Despite inflation. Employment and income growth will provide the necessary momentum. Also: the politics of inflation; The state’s VC arm added…
Big moments from the first and only TV debate between Michael Bennet and Joe O’Dea
9News, Hosted by KRDO-TV and Colorado Politics, the debate is the last scheduled debate between the candidates before Election Day.
Wolves shooting in Wyoming may have been from the Colorado pack.
The North Park pack, which often crosses into Wyoming, where hunting wolves is legal, gained notoriety last year after the birth.