DENVER - Today, the Polis administration announced that the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) is awarding Colorado over $5 million to prepare for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) funding program. The BEAD program is the country’s largest-ever investment in broadband, and provides funding to build infrastructure and provide equitable opportunities through access to the internet.
“This exciting grant builds upon our work to connect over 99% of Coloradans to affordable, high-speed broadband in the next five years,” said Governor Jared Polis. “We are continuing to save people money on internet, making sure that no matter where you live, you have access to internet you can count on and we look forward to continued partnership with the federal government to achieve our bold goals.”
Colorado will use the federal grant to expand access, affordability, and digital skills for Coloradans. Earlier this year, Governor Polis signed an Executive Order in Grand Junction to expand access to high-speed, reliable internet for Coloradans.
“Coloradans rely on internet access to work, connect with family, seek medical care, pursue education, and so much more, which is why we have worked hard to connect communities across Colorado with reliable high-speed internet. This transformative federal grant boosts our ability to make sure Coloradans can access affordable internet, and we thank the federal government for supporting this important work,” said Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera.
BEAD is part of the bipartisan federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Gov. Polis was one of the first governors in the country to support this landmark federal infrastructure package, which, combined with Colorado’s historic bipartisan infrastructure package, is delivering real results to Coloradans. It is estimated that BEAD will allocate between $400 and $700 million to Colorado to bridge the digital divide by funding projects that support access, affordability and digital literacy. NTIA plans to announce each state’s BEAD allocation on June 30, 2023.
“Affordable, high-speed broadband is essential for modern American life, allowing people to telework, learn remotely, and access telemedicine,” said Senator Michael Bennet. “I worked to ensure that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law included historic funding for broadband because millions of Americans still lack access – disproportionately from our rural areas, low-income neighborhoods, and communities of color. This initial $5 million investment will strengthen Colorado’s ability to plan for the broadband funding next year and maximize this once-in-a-generation opportunity for our state.”
Funding for the BEAD program draws from the bipartisan BRIDGE Act that Senator Bennet introduced last year.
“In the last century we connected every house to electricity. This century, we’re going to connect every house to affordable, fast internet – all thanks to our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said Senator Hickenlooper, who was also part of the group that authored the law.
Receipt of the official planning grant starts a 270-day clock for the Colorado Broadband Office (CBO). The Office must gain approval from the NTIA by submitting a five-year action plan for using BEAD funds no later than Aug. 28, 2023.
“There is a lot of important work that needs to happen to ensure this historic investment lasts for generations to come,” said CBO Executive Director, Brandy Reitter. “The CBO will use the BEAD Planning Grant to staff resources, engage the community, develop accurate broadband maps, build a grant application program, provide community technical assistance and contribute to compliance and grant award decisions.”