Region 10 continues to succeed in securing the funding necessary for the expansion of high-speed broadband in Western Colorado. An additional $1.78 million in grant funding was recently announced from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to be used toward this effort.
This particular grant will be used to finance the second phase of the regional broadband network designed to connect with the first phase of the project (Delta County and a portion of Montrose County) and extend into Ouray, Gunnison, Hinsdale, and San Miguel Counties.
To update the community on our efforts, Region 10 recently hosted a regional meeting recently which invited both elected officials, internet service providers, and interested citizens. In attendance was Irv Halter, DOLA’s Executive Director, who spoke about the state of Colorado’s efforts to support economically struggling communities.
“It’s increasingly important to be able to have high-capacity broadband,” Halter mentioned while addressing the crowd. “In fact, it’s the coin of the realm: If you don’t have that, you don’t exist.”
Halter’s comments reflect the impetus of this entire endeavor, as broadband represents a vital component of our region’s economic development strategies.
The continued goal of this network is build out the “middle mile” infrastructure in and provide redundancy for each participating community in Region 10. Each community involved the project will house a carrier neutral locations for private providers to utilize for the “last mile” buildouts to home and businesses.
The design is to build the most cost-efficient network by leveraging existing infrastructure assets, like dark fiber scattered throughout the region. To build from scratch and connect all Region 10 communities, a new regional broadband network is estimated to have cost $60 million. Instead, with careful coordinating, the estimated price tag for the project in its current is approximately $14 million.
Region 10 has already been a recipient of significant funding. The first phase of development received $5.2 million of state funds from DOLA and $1.2 million in federal funding from Partnerships for Opportunity, Workforce, and Economic Revitalization (POWER). All local communities involved in the project have ponied up matching funds to better leverage funding for construction and coordination of the network.
The project has also leveraged a generous in-kind donation from Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA), who remains a valuable partner in the process, and is providing the network with six non-transferable fibers that are a part of their own internal network that is in the midst of construction.
The projects are working together to determine the most efficient way to complete the middle mile service, while DMEA continues to plan to cover homes and businesses throughout their service area.
Executive Director Michelle Haynes comments, “This project represents significant collaboration from the most local levels, to support from state and federal resources, in recognition of the importance of broadband in our local economy. Region 10 is pleased to be a partner in such a broad effort in our communities and region.”
Phase one construction is scheduled to begin this summer.
With the new DOLA funding, phase two service areas will be integrated into the design and implementation process, with an ultimate goal to have the Region 10 middle mile portion completed within the next two years.