Colorado rural high-speed broadband bill becomes law | CraigDailyPress.com

Colorado rural high-speed broadband bill becomes law

Jackson Federico, a tower technician for Advanced Wireless Solutions, works to make some repairs on the dish on the Pollard cell tower high off the ground in rural Rio Blanco County on July 12, 2017 near Meeker, Colorado. Broadband in Rio Blanco county and Meeker is some of the best in the state for rural areas.

A bill to accelerate construction of high-speed broadband internet service in rural Colorado is now law.

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the bill Monday. It is one of his top priorities for the 2018 legislative session.

The law is designed to bridge the economic divide between rural and urban parts of Colorado.

Supporters say the state’s eastern plains, western slope and many mountain towns have lagged behind because of sluggish or non-existent service. Fast internet is a lifeline for farmers, telemedicine, public schools and small businesses.

The bill will take money from a fund that long has subsidized rural telephone service and invest it in broadband construction over a five-year period ending in 2023.

Legislative analysts estimate more than $115 million will go to broadband grants between 2019 and 2023.