Broadband Internet access affects economic development


Broadband Internet availability was the main topic of a conference that three members of the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation attended recently.

At last week’s public meeting, CDC board president Jason Cox reported that he, Morgan Murri and Michael Heraty attended the Mountain Connect Conference last month in Aspen, which was a three-day expo involving more than 300 attendees, 80 speakers and nearly 40 workshops. The focus of the event was on broadband Internet in Colorado’s rural, mountain communities.

Cox explained that the three CDC members were able to go to the conference, learn about the broadband issue from some of the top experts in the field, come back and formulate a recommendation for Archuleta County.

“What it came down to,” Cox said, “is we are really, really losing the battle right now in the digital divide war. The gap is really growing and we recognize that this is no longer a luxury item to have broadband Internet connectivity; this is core infrastructure, and in rural areas it is not worthwhile to privately invest in this type of infrastructure. Therefore, it has to be either a public/private partnership, or all public.”

The CDC plans to form a workgroup comprised of interested stakeholders to study the Internet needs of the community, assess the resources currently available, identify the gaps and develop a plan to bridge those gaps.

“There is another component of this issue,” Cox continued, “which is a legal component. Senate Bill 152 passed in 2005. It essentially restricts the ability for public money to be used for telecommunications infrastructure.”

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