Thousands of rural Coloradans could be one step closer to gaining access to high-speed internet thanks to federal funding for broadband expansion throughout the country. Colorado could potentially receive upward of $800 million in federal aid for broadband installation thanks to the Broadband Equity Access and Development program, better known as BEAD.
BEAD, which is distributing more than $42 billion in funding, will help. By expanding access to these online services, rural Coloradans will be more easily able to have access to the same quality internet that their urban counterparts already have.
Coloradans like Michael Royals are among the many who are in need of broadband. Royals lives about half an hour northwest of Fort Collins in the foothills of Larimer County.
“[The internet here] is really poor quality,” Royals said. “It is not about the number of providers, it is about the lack of bandwidth.”
Colorado is already in the process of spending $171 million on broadband expansion. With the potential of hundreds of millions of dollars more in funding, Royals said he hoped his community would be among the next to get access.
“Broadband would be a game changer,” Royals said.
Royals heavily relies on his internet connection for business, oftentimes using video chatting platforms to conduct his work. However, with the internet he currently has to rely on, the only time he can guarantee he has enough bandwidth to work is around 5 a.m.
“I’ve done project work in 50 different countries. I can rely on cellular and broadband in Gambia, West Africa better than I can in Laporte, Colorado,” Royals said.
Gov. Jared Polis and his office are asking the public to plug their addresses into the FCC’s map they created, which helps them better understand where there are service inequities.
According to the governor’s office, there are many places on the map they believe the FCC shows as having access to broadband when in actuality they do not. By updating your property’s status on the map you could help secure additional funding for the state.
Royals said access to reliable internet is becoming a basic necessity in today’s society, pointing out that many people rely on the internet for education, telehealth and business.
“It will become, if it is not already, fundamental to living anywhere whether it is rural or urban,” Royals said. “The time is right to spread the wealth.”
Coloradans have until this Friday to complete their submission on the FCC map.