10.30.20

Gardner Applauds $6 Million Investment from USDA to Expand Rural Broadband in Northwest Colorado

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, applauded the announcement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding $6 million to expand rural broadband service in Northwest Colorado. The funding will be provided to Yampa Valley Electric Association through USDA’s ReConnect program to increase access to reliable and affordable high-speed internet, which is expected to connect 553 people, 27 farms, 27 businesses and three post offices to high-speed broadband internet in Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt, Grand, and Eagle counties in Northwest Colorado.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the digital divide that exists in many of our rural communities, and it’s more important than ever to keep Colorado residents connected to reliable and speedy broadband, no matter which corner of the state they happen to live in,” said Senator Gardner. “The people that live in Northwest Colorado are some of the toughest and most resilient people I know and they deserve the same access to high-speed broadband as other regions of the state. I will continue working to ensure all of Colorado is connected.”  

The funding for this project was made possible in part by the 2018 Farm Bill, which authorized USDA’s ReConnect program at $600 million with Gardner’s support. It comes in addition to the $6.3 million in funding to from USDA to expand broadband in Southwest Colorado earlier this month.

Background:

  • In July 2020, Gardner introduced the DEPLOY Broadband Act, which appropriates $6.5 billion to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for broadband buildout in unserved areas.
  • After a hearing held by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Gardner called for greater broadband access in unserved and underserved areas in Colorado.
  • Gardner called for a concentrated effort to make rural broadband a reality on the Senate floor in May 2020.
  • In April 2020, Colorado healthcare providers received more than $850,000 from the FCC through the CARES Act for telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In an April 2020 op-ed, Gardner wrote about the need to provide broadband for rural communities.
  • In March 2020, the Senate Commerce Committee passed the ACCESS BROADBAND Act, bipartisan legislation Gardner introduced to establish a single point of contact office to streamline management and oversight of federal broadband resources across multiple agencies.
  • In December 2019, the Senate Commerce Committee passed Gardner’s measure to provide substantial funding for rural broadband by ensuring at least 10 percent of the sale from a C-band spectrum would be allocated for rural buildout in unserved and underserved areas.

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.