Government & Politics  February 9, 2022

Four Front Range communities to collaborate on broadband project

NORTHERN COLORADO — Four Front Range communities are joining forces to provide high-speed internet to their residents. Berthoud, Mead, Milliken and Johnstown will work together to bring broadband internet into their towns.

The four communities are working together to appeal to broadband providers. While individual small and rural towns may struggle to receive high-quality broadband, the united front is intended to bring in more potential providers.

Several other Front Range communities, including Loveland, Fort Collins and Longmont, have chosen a different path by creating public utilities to deliver broadband.

“None of us are really in a position to upfront that cost,” said Walt Elish, business development director for the town of Berthoud.

Another roadblock to small towns providing their own broadband service is Colorado senate bill 152, which was passed in 2005 and bars communities from offering their own broadband options.

More than 100 Colorado cities and towns have opted out of the bill, including Berthoud, Johnstown, Mead and Milliken. Milliken, the last of the four to opt out, voted in favor of letting the town provide its own broadband in November 2021.

The pandemic has intensified the need for reliable high-speed internet in every community, as more residents transition to remote work and school. The four main goals of the broadband project are inclusivity, high speed, reliability and affordability.

Johnstown town manager Matt LeCerf compared the need for broadband access to the decades-old spread of landline phone service, including connecting people in hard-to-reach rural areas.

“Inclusivity for us means that everybody has access to that service,” he said. 

Project managers for the four towns hope to complete their broadband project within the next two to three years, with construction beginning in the next 12 months. Bringing together four smaller communities to provide broadband access is not as common as cities opting to provide their own utilities.

“This is rather unique, I think,” Elish said.

A similar effort is underway involving Loveland’s Pulse broadband service. The program, which was started in 2018, will expand service to include Drake, the Lago Vista mobile home neighborhood and the Sylvan Dale ranch area. Larimer County has contracted with Pulse to extend the city’s broadband network to the otherwise underserved rural areas outside the city.

NORTHERN COLORADO — Four Front Range communities are joining forces to provide high-speed internet to their residents. Berthoud, Mead, Milliken and Johnstown will work together to bring broadband internet into their towns.

The four communities are working together to appeal to broadband providers. While individual small and rural towns may struggle to receive high-quality broadband, the united front is intended to bring in more potential providers.

Several other Front Range communities, including Loveland, Fort Collins and Longmont, have chosen a different path by creating public utilities to deliver broadband.

“None of us are really in a position to upfront that cost,” said Walt…

Related Content