Earlier this year, the state's Broadband Deployment Board awarded $4 million in state grant funds to bring high-speed internet to citizens near Crawford, Hotchkiss, Northeast Delta and West Montrose. The funding was awarded to DMEA to build the fiber network that Elevate would use to deliver high-speed internet service. Unfortunately, the good news didn't last long for those living in west Hotchkiss. On March 8, the Broadband Deployment Board agreed with TDS that the grant for the West Hotchkiss area should be reversed because TDS already serves that area with high-speed internet. TDS is the longtime internet service provider in much of Delta County.
"The results are bittersweet," said Kent Blackwell, chief technology officer for DMEA and Elevate. "We are grateful for the state Broadband Deployment Board's grants for the areas near Crawford, Delta and Montrose. TDS contended they already provide broadband in and around west Hotchkiss, and they argued our grant for that area should be revoked. Ultimately, the Broadband Board found their argument persuasive, but we respectfully disagree."
Despite the loss of funds for the Hotchkiss area, overall most citizens living in the grant application area triumphed. The Broadband Deployment Board awarded just over $3 million in grants to DMEA to construct fiber that will allow Elevate to provide high-speed internet. This is more than half the entire funding made available in the 2018 fall DORA broadband program. Construction is expected to kick off in the awarded grant areas in early fall 2019. These grant areas correspond to the following Elevate zones:
Montrose 428 C
Crawford 57 (portions)
Delta N 175 (portions)
"We can't help but be disappointed for our neighbors near Hotchkiss. At the same time, we are genuinely grateful for the support the Broadband Deployment Board is providing in our remaining three zones. Those citizens will see truly high-speed internet within the year -- all because of the Broadband Deployment Board," said Blackwell.
Established in 2014, the state's Broadband Fund is designed to bring broadband to rural Colorado at speeds of at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. The fund is administered by a 16-member board. Learn more at www.colorado.gov/pacific/dora-broadband-fund/deployment-board.