Grants may be available for Eagle County’s rural areas to get broadband internet service

Grants will have to fund projects in remote areas

The Dotsero mobile home park may soon have broadband internet service.
Chris Dillmann/archive photo
A pair of money pots
  • The state of Colorado’s Capital Projects Fund has a total of $162 million allocated to building broadband service.
  • The federal Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program has a total of $826 million for rural projects in Colorado. Program guidelines haven’t been released.

It looks like the mobile home park at Dotsero will have broadband internet service in the near future.

During a Monday presentation to the Eagle County Board of Commissioners, Scott Lingle, the county’s director of innovation and technology, briefed the board about efforts to bring better service to the county’s rural areas.

A recent request for proposals was sent to internet service providers. Three bids came back. The least expensive bid came from Vero Broadband. The total project is expected to cost about $380,000, which includes both the mobile home park and the Two Rivers neighborhood. Eagle County will pay 75% of that amount, but Lingle said there’s an opportunity to land a state grant of $110,000.

It will be more difficult — and expensive — to bring broadband to other, more remote, parts of the county. One estimate for bringing service to the Colorado River Road and Sweetwater areas was more than $3 million.

There’s also the matter of lack of potential customers. The Dotsero mobile home park is only about 70 homes, Lingle said. There are fewer homes, more widely spaced, in other areas.

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But recent federal legislation has made $826 million available for broadband projects in Colorado. Lingle said that the guidelines have yet to be set for that program. But, he added, possible grant funding provides the opportunity for projects that “normally wouldn’t seem possible.”

There are current state grants that put communities into different tiers of matching funds. Eagle County, like most of the state, is in Tier II, which requires a 50% funding match from participating communities.

Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry noted that state and federal grants seem to have “opened the door” for better service in the county’s rural and more remote areas.

“This is our best shot,” Lingle said, adding that “the easy stuff’s been done.”

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