With state-provided grant funding for high-speed Internet access set to run out next year, a local group wants governments to stick together and wait.
The Yampa Valley Economic Development Council is en----couraging governments in Northwest Colorado to wait a few months before making a decision about their Internet access.
The Beanpole grant, which brought high-speed Internet access to Northwest Colorado in 2000 and has paid for the service since then, will expire June 30, 2006.
Beanpole funds Internet access for a variety of entities in Northwest Colorado, including the city of Craig, Moffat County, the city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County.
The various entities receive a group rate on Internet access from Northwest Colorado Telecom.
Winnie Delliquadri, YVEDC Beanpole project coordinator, said local governments shouldn't rush to a decision about their Internet access.
"We recommend we stay together as a group and wait a while," Delliquadri said.
In the past, governments throughout the state have grouped themselves with colleges and schools to get Internet access cheaper.
Delliquadri said there is a chance some of those groups could disband in the next few months, meaning more possible partners for Northwest Colorado governments.
"The bigger you are, the better purchasing power you have," Delliquadri said.
Governments should wait to contract for services until they know who they can partner with, she said. But groups currently relying on Beanpole should budget knowing they will have to pay for Internet access soon, but shouldn't set anything in stone, she said.
"It wouldn't be prudent for us ... to contract for services starting next July (now)," Delliquadri said. "A year is a long time, and a lot can happen."
With technology always changing rapidly, Delliquadri said waiting could mean better prices.
"We hope that by waiting, we can get pricing that's even better," she said.
Craig City Councilor Tom Gilchrist, who also sits on the YVEDC, agreed.
"We want to see if we can do better," Gilchrist said. "It will be a better use of taxpayer dollars."
The groups relying on Beanpole probably will stay with NC Telecom after the grant runs out because some of the partners, including Moffat County and Rio Blanco County, already have prepaid for services with the company.
Brandon Johansson can be reached at824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org