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Boulder, Colorado, School District Describes Trials in Providing Broadband to Students

David Jelke

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Photo of Boulder, Colorado, by Susan Cycles used with permission

April 21, 2020— Chief Intelligence Officer of the Boulder Valley School District Andrew Moore oversees 100 miles of private fiber that connects all but two of his district’s schools. He expressed the need for all 100 miles of this fiber to be shared equally at a webinar hosted by the Western Governors Association on Wednesday.

Moore outlined three components of his town’s plan for digital equity: computing device access; broadband access at school, home and the community; and ensuring digital literacy.

In attempting to provide connectivity at the home, Moore and his team tried using mobile hotspots, but they suffered from poor cell coverage.

“The hotspots clearly didn’t work well for us,” he said.

Then they tried establishing a system of Boulder Housing Partners, but to do so they needed to fill an Federal Communications Commission waiver request.

They worked with professors from University of Colorado law school in Boulder to file the FCC waiver request, which got “a couple negative comments from the telco industry.” As of the time of the webinar, Moore lamented, the waiver has not left the FCC’s office.

The latest attempt at providing broadband to the homes of Boulder residents comes in the form of a partnership. LiveWire is in a pilot phase of a public/private partnership with Boulder by offering free internet to free or reduced lunch qualified students, or 21 percent of the Boulder Valley School District population, in exchange for some of the school’s real estate.

Boulder’s vision is embodied in its ConnectME plan, where ME stands for My Education.

Its goals include formalizing a long-term agreement for home broadband, negotiating a revenue sharing component, and to finalize and implement a rollout schedule of 18-24 months.

Alton Kimura, loan specialist of the USDA Rural Development fund, also spoke at the webinar.

Kimura insisted that the community component of building out broadband is important to his organization. “We’re not like a bank,” he said.

Kumura provided information about the rates and terms of Community Facilities Direct Loans. provides direct loans and/or grants for essential community facilities in rural areas. Priority is given to healthcare, education, and public safety projects. The components include:

  • Interest rates currently at 2.375 percent fixed for the loan term
  • 40-year term or useful life
  • Adequate security to protect the interest of the government
  • Demonstrate adequate payment ability
  • Unable to obtain other commercial credit

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