Broadband bill for rural communities passes in Colorado senate

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DENVER (KKCO/KJCT)-- A new bill making its way through the state legislature would level the playing field for rural communities, helping them get broadband connections with enough speed to be competitive with the rest of the state.

Currently, if you have a phone, you pay an extra 2.6 percent surcharge.

Don Coram, R-Montrose, says that money goes into a fund to help get teleservices to hard to reach places, but that fund could soon go away. He wants to do something different with that money.

Coram introduced a bill that would take 60 percent of that fund next year, and then an additional ten percent every year after, until it's all gone. Coram said the money would then help rural communities build out broadband infrastructure.

The bill had it's final reading and passage in the Senate Thursday.

"Broadband is the only thing in rural Colorado to level the playing field," said Coram. "Without broadband, we can't get jobs, we can't get a lot of manufacturing, it's very important for telehealth, for education, just communicating with the world is very important."

Specifically, the new fund would help communities with speeds less than 10 megabytes per second, and get them up to at least 10.
Coram said he introduced a version of this bill five years ago, but Century Link sued and held up the process. The bill still has to pass in the house.

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