$113 Million in Broadband Grants Aim to Empower Colorado’s Local Providers

All but one of the awardees are Colorado-based internet service providers.

$113 Million in Broadband Grants Aim to Empower Colorado’s Local Providers
Photo of Highway 160 in Colorado TKN from Defense Visual Information Distribution.

WASHINGTON, January 4, 2024 – Colorado on Wednesday tentatively granted more than $113.5 million in broadband expansion awards to 13 applicants to connect nearly 19,000 homes and businesses across southwest Colorado. 

All but one of the awardees are Colorado-based internet service providers and municipal network operators. The other, Visionary Communications, offers service across two additional states, Montana and Wyoming. 

Administered through the Advance Colorado Broadband Grant Program, the awards were funded by the Treasury Department’s Capital Projects Fund. The program saw fierce competition, receiving 112 applications seeking a combined total of over $642 million across 47 counties.

Clearnetworx emerged as a major victor, securing $25.3 million for five projects. Based in Montrose, Colorado, the locally owned and operated fiber and wireless service provider arose in 2012 to address the region’s broadband scarcity.

Clearnetworx has been granted awards to install fiber along Highway 160 and Highway 184 in Montezuma County. This development coincides with the Colorado Transportation Commission’s recent approval of a fee schedule that allows broadband service providers to install fiber along the state’s roadways at reduced rates. Under the revised fiber access fee structure, broadband providers in rural counties such as Montezuma will gain access to some of the most competitive rates in the region, priced at $0.03 per foot.

Close on its heels, Maverix Broadband, is in line to win $25.1 million, aiming to deploy fiber-to-the-home services across Gilpin, Boulder, Chaffee, and Saguache counties, and Kiowa city, extending coverage to 731 locations in a city of 725 residents.

Fort Collins Connexion, a municipal broadband utility, secured $10.8 million for four projects serving 1,409 locations in Larimer County. Meanwhile, another municipal network operator, Loveland Pulse, is slated to receive $3.2 million to extend fiber connectivity to three service areas.

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe secured $8.5 million to serve 557 locations within the Southern Ute Reservation, marking a significant step in enhancing connectivity.

The recipients are committing over $42 million in additional funds towards the project’s costs – a total $155.5 million investment. 

Additionally, more funding from the Capital Projects Fund is designated for the Ridge View campus in rural Colorado. This initiative aims to establish a supportive residential community to aid in overcoming homelessness, ensuring long-term housing stability, and fostering successful reintegration into preferred communities.

The awards are set for finalization following an ongoing challenge process.

The state is committed to connecting 99 percent of Colorado’s households to “adequate” broadband by 2027. Today, over 90 percent of Colorado’s households and businesses have access to internet with 100 * 20 Megabits per second service, according to state data.

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