Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What are the next steps for Colorado Rural Broadband?

Paul Recanzone and I were discussing this and here's a snapshot:

1. End pre-emption, ie SB-152: take away the "fear factor" for public officials to engage in the discussion of community broadband
2. Determine sustainable business models for community networks based on previous experiences
3. Identify capital sources; of note: "road retirement  fund" or 25 cents of every $5 of road maintenance monies go to a fund to build a community broadband network (could be a revolving loan fund) as one of many benefits might be taking white collar/creatives/clerical workers off the road thus decreasing demand for or wear and tear on roads. Any county or municipality with a road fund can start this as soon as they desire...


Frank Ohrtman


  1. The EAGLE-Net project and Southwest Colorado Access Network (or SCAN) being implemented by the Southwest Colorado Council of Governments (or SWCCOG) represent crucial steps towards ending pre-emption. The EAGLE-Net Alliance is a duly recognized local government and SWCCOG is comprised of towns and counties building community networks. Their successful implementation will erode the Colorado legislature's willingness to maintain pre-emption. Their failure would only serve as case studies as to why the law is good. To that end, we all need to be working to ensure the success of both projects.
    Of course, Longmont is another one to carefully watch. Having passed their local resolution authorizing construction, we need to work for their success as well.

  2. Frank,
    Number 1 on your list strikes fear in all these communities. While SB-152 should be in violation of several federal laws, it stays on the books. Valley Wireless attempted projects in Southern Colorado and had funding to do them. Delta, which desperately needs services, was absolutely frozen by thoughts of being sued by Qwest/State or someone. Joe Kerby has moved on from his City Mgr. position in Delta, CO to something in the county, now. Sadly, the city tech head knew almost nothing about technology, either (and getting paid for it). Colorado, you have a problem.

    South Carolina just passed a similar bill to 152. How do we elect officials who promote this kind of corruption? The money's available for these projects. Longmont is another story.

    Longmont had an entire fiber loop before most knew what one was. Applause! Then, that same city expelled the first wireless company by ending their contract because of unpaid local taxes. Instead of supporting this company and the new technology and benefit (which the city needed), they simply killed it without a thought.

    Leaders in these communities need professional counseling, as it pertains to tech. Well-intentioned leaders in rural areas (who don't regularly enjoy the fruits of access to the internet and high-speed computing), are making decisions on technology for their entire communities! Ludicrous. This brings back memories of a town in South Texas where a city councilwoman stood firm on condemning an already built wireless network because "we don't want porn in this town!" I'm sure most of that community's children won't make it to college...

    Until these communities hire a consultant (who actually knows something about technology), nothing will improve, I'm afraid. No, I don't mean an equipment vendor, either. Our favorite area to work, we finally threw in the towel.
    Bobby Vassallo