Tribal communities in Colorado may gain better broadband access with new bill

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Colorado's official broadband map does not paint an accurate picture of internet access for Tribal communities according to leaders. Bernadette Cuthair, director of planning and development for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, has been working to help her community access faster service despite the current broadband map making it appear that their community doesn't need help. It’s a sore topic that Ute Mountain Utes and other tribal communities have dealt with for years, but some are feeling more hopeful now that the state legislature passed the Funding for Broadband Deployment Bill, (HB21-1298),  which, among many changes to the state’s broadband programs, set aside $20 million for the Ute Mountain and Southern Ute tribes for broadband infrastructure. The Funding for Broadband Deployment bill is expected to get the state to 100 percent rural broadband coverage, a goal set in 2017 by then-Governor John Hickenlooper when rural internet coverage was at 70 percent. The Colorado Broadband Office, created in the same year, has helped ratchet coverage to 91 percent by promoting grants from two state agencies to private internet providers and municipalities to build better service. The Funding for Broadband Deployment bill awaits Governor Jared Polis’ signature.

Colorado reaches 91% rural broadband coverage as efforts to improve internet for Ute Tribes move forward