Funding Will Expand Access to High-Speed Broadband on Colorado’s Western Slope
Denver – Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet, a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, and Cory Gardner today announced that Emery Telecom will receive $2.7 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ReConnect Loan and Grant Program.
With new USDA funding, Emery Telecom will provide nearly 500 fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) connections to homes, farms and ranches, small businesses, educational facilities, and community anchor institutions in and around Dove Creek, Colorado. Bennet wrote a letter to USDA in support of Emery Telecom’s grant application in October.
“For residents in Dove Creek or anywhere in Colorado, high-speed broadband is not a luxury in the modern economy – it is a necessity,” said Bennet. “That’s why I’ve fought to secure USDA funding to expand broadband in our rural communities through my position on the Senate Agriculture Committee, and I am glad to see these investments finally coming to the Western Slope.”
“Increasing broadband access is critical to continuing economic development in Colorado’s rural communities and ensuring all four corners of Colorado are connected to the world,” said Gardner. “These investments will provide necessary resources to continue deploying broadband in unserved and underserved areas in Colorado, helping to bridge the urban-rural divide.”
In Dove Creek, residents and businesses generally lack access to broadband speeds above 10/1 Mbps, and most critical institutions and businesses lack access to broadband entirely. The regional economy relies heavily on agriculture, energy production, mining, and tourism, which have become increasingly reliant on broadband to stay competitive and reach distant markets.
USDA’s ReConnect Loan and Grant Program is a pilot program launched in 2018 to expand broadband service to primarily unserved rural areas, defined as those with access to internet speeds lower than 10/1 Mbps. Nonprofits, private companies, cooperatives, tribes, and state and local governments are eligible for ReConnect grants and loans.
Bennet, who recently authored the Broadband Transparency and Accountability Act, helped to increase funding for broadband deployment in the 2018 Farm Bill to expand access to high-speed broadband in underserved areas.