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Colorado Officials Address Broadband Access At Montrose Forum

Irv Halter
Laura Palmisano

A lack of access to high-speed internet is an issue for rural communities in western Colorado. 

Local leaders say it hinders economic development.

Governor John Hickenlooper echoed this sentiment at a recent town hall meeting in Montrose. 

"I always call it the inverse square rule," said Hickenlooper. "The smaller populations are the farthest away from where the fiber line already exists. So we’ve got to figure out how to get that middle mile everywhere that allows those smaller communities to attract professionals who want to start a little businesses there because you can’t do a business today without the internet." 

Earlier this month, the state awarded a $5.2 million grant to develop better broadband access in Montrose and Delta counties. The Colorado Department of Local Affairs disturbed the funds.

Irv Halter, the agency’s executive director, talked about the grant at the forum.  

"And, that will help get broadband through the middle mile and out in this region even further," said Halter.

DOLA also awarded San Miguel County $330,000 dollars for a project to boost internet speeds.

However, Hickenlooper says minimal funding is holding the state back from doing more on the broadband front.

"Our problem is we are going to be giving refunds next year even at the same time we have $900 million that we owe to the K-12 education system," he said.  "So trying to say alright we need an extra…$30 or $40 million a year to do broadband outreach to rural Colorado…that’s difficult very, very difficult."

Laura joined KVNF in 2014. She was the news director for two years and now works as a freelance reporter covering Colorado's Western Slope. Laura is an award-winning journalist with work recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists, Colorado Broadcasters Association, and RTDNA. In 2015, she was a fellow for the Institute for Justice & Journalism. Her fellowship project, a three-part series on the Karen refugee community in Delta, Colorado, received a regional Edward R. Murrow Award.
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