Initiative Will Help Coloradans Compete for $600 Million in New Funding for Grants and Loans from USDA in Bipartisan Spending Bill
Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today launched Connect Colorado, a new initiative to help connect every community in Colorado to high-speed, affordable, reliable broadband Internet. The initiative’s first priority is to help rural Colorado communities compete for $600 million in new federal funding for broadband loans and grants, which was secured in yesterday’s omnibus spending bill, by ensuring federal agencies provide timely answers to potential applicants.
“High-speed, reliable, affordable broadband is essential for our communities to thrive in the 21st century economy,” Bennet said. “Colorado’s local leaders, especially in rural areas, have been at the forefront of innovative approaches to deliver that caliber of service to their neighbors. We must do everything we can to build on their work, with the goal of delivering high-quality broadband to every community across Colorado.”
Yesterday, the Senate passed a bill to fund the government through September 30, 2018, which included $600 million for a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) rural broadband grant-loan pilot program targeted to areas that currently lack access to broadband service. Bennet is pleased with this win for Colorado, but also recognizes that the application process for various federal broadband programs can be onerous and confusing—especially for smaller or newer providers. To address this concern, Connect Colorado will help ensure that federal agencies are responsive to questions that Colorado applicants may have throughout the process.
In his role on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Bennet has fought for USDA rural broadband funding and will continue working to ensure federal funds are allocated in the most effective manner possible. Bennet is a cosponsor of the Streamlining and Investing in Broadband Infrastructure Act, as well as the Broadband Connections for Rural Opportunities Act, both of which aim to expand broadband access in rural areas. He has also sent multiple letters to the Federal Communications Commission, urging it to make funding programs more transparent and ensure that smaller, rural providers that can offer high-quality service are given a fair chance to compete for federal funding.
If Coloradans have any questions about the initiative or would like to provide input on any of the federal government’s broadband-related programs, please reach out to one of our regional offices or to firstname.lastname@example.org.