Colo. wins stimulus money to map Internet terrain and lay the tubes

The Governor’s Office of Information Technology has won federal Recovery Act cash to up the speed limit on the information superhighway in the overdue dial-up regions of the state.

Gov. Bill Ritter
Gov. Bill Ritter

Gov. Bill Ritter announced Monday that the state will receive nearly $2.1 million to support broadband Internet mapping and planning activities, work that will finally spread broadband access to hundreds of thousands of Coloradans.

Colorado was awarded $1.6 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and almost $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period. Fifteen grants have already been announced under the program. The agency will continue to announce awards over the coming weeks.

“Reliable, affordable Internet service brings opportunities in education, business, health care and jobs to our state,” Gov. Ritter said in a statement on the award. “Improving our broadband access is imperative to remaining competitive in today’s global economy. These funds will pave the way for growth in new geographic areas and keep Colorado a leader in the digital economy of today and tomorrow.”

The funding will allow Colorado to expand on the mapping efforts initiated by Senate Bill 08-215, which was sponsored by state Sen. Gail Schwartz and state Rep. Jim Riesberg. The bill, which was passed in 2008 and updated by SB-162 in 2009, looks to provide a comprehensive map and inventory of broadband access in the state. The data will then be used to draw up a plan to roll out service to those un-served and underserved communities.

“There are communities all around Colorado with schools, healthcare providers and businesses that need access to 21st century connectivity. This is a significant step to assuring opportunity for all citizens across the state,” Sen. Schwartz said.

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