An internet technician is repairing or maintaining a fiber optic connection by opening a fiber optic connector.

Garfield County looks to cut through broadband red tape

BOCC signs letter to governor requesting assistance in removing roadblocks

December 21, 2022

Garfield County has sent a letter to Colorado Governor Jared Polis requesting assistance in navigating the roadblocks to access state-owned fiber lines to bring broadband service more quickly to western Colorado. The letter notes that as many as 7,000 households in Garfield County have no access to broadband service and many other homes are served by slower, less reliable service.

“Garfield County, along with our community partners, has made broadband a priority to ensure that the underserved and unserved communities have access to reliable and cost-effective broadband services,” the letter states.

The county voiced concerns in the letter that agreements between its partner, Region 10, and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) have been stymied by red tape, which is holding up the overall process. Region 10 leverages resources to help provide affordable, high-speed Internet service to Western Slope communities.

Carrier neutral locations are either already existing or are in the process of being established in Glenwood Springs, Rifle, New Castle, Silt, and Parachute. Region 10 is waiting on CDOT’s Intelligent Transportation System Department for access to its fiber line along Interstate 70 because stipulations that restrict or prohibit broadband use have been made on state assets by private companies.
“We are engaged in unprecedented intergovernmental cooperation to improve broadband throughout western Colorado,” the letter reads. “Legal ambiguities relating to CDOT’s contractual arrangements continue to be a persistent roadblock and are delaying our progress.”

The county requested that all state agencies revisit the state’s fiber-optic network agreements and determine that they serve the public interest.

“The county allocated $5 million on broadband to get service lines along Interstate 70 to each of our municipalities in the Colorado River Basin,” said Commissioner Tom Jankovsky. “This effort will all be for naught if we cannot get access to the CDOT trunkline along the highway. This affects all of western Colorado. We’re requesting that the governor investigate this and intervene to speed up the process of connecting broadband service to our citizens and businesses.”

The letter, which lists 24 affected communities in western Colorado, was approved by the Board of County Commissioners unanimously, 3-0.