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Colorado’s plan to distribute federal funding for internet access approved

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Lindsey Toomer

(Colorado Newsline) The Biden administration has approved Colorado’s plan to distribute grant funding to expand broadband internet access, White House officials announced in a press conference Tuesday.

Colorado will receive $826.5 million to support affordable, high-speed internet access across the state as part of the Biden administration’s Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program. The announcement makes Colorado the eighth state approved to start enacting its plan for federal funding.

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“It’s just such a fundamental building block of so many services in our economy, where it is today and even more so in the future,” Colorado Governor Jared Polis said of internet access during the press conference.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunication and Information Administration approved Colorado and New Hampshire’s plans Tuesday. The states will now be permitted to tap into their allocated funding from the BEAD program as they support internet upgrades and installments for those who need it.

“Affordable, high-speed broadband is essential for modern American life,” U.S. Senator Michael Bennet said in a statement. “Colorado helps lead the way on successful implementation of the BEAD Program, which will bridge the digital divide for communities across Colorado — especially our rural areas, low-income neighborhoods, and communities of color.”

Brandy Reitter, executive director of the Colorado Broadband Office, said the state will roll out its program in four phases, starting with public comment on the proposed grant guidelines and project area maps in July. Grant applications will open in late August or early September, Reitter said.

The program, which is funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law, is part of the Biden administration’s goal to connect all Americans to high-speed broadband internet by the end of the decade.

“Colorado can move from planning to action in the BEAD process,” White House Deputy Chief of Staff Natalie Quillian said. “It means we’re this much closer to getting shovels in the ground, creating good, quality jobs and getting our communities connected.”

Polis in 2022 set a goal for Colorado to connect 99 percent of the state to adequate internet service with the support of federal funding.

Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.