10.13.20

Gardner, Secretary Perdue Announce $6.3 Million to Expand Broadband in Southwest Colorado

Funding from USDA will connect more than 1,600 Coloradans to broadband

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding $6.3 million to expand broadband service in Southwest Colorado. The funding will be provided to Emery Telecommunications through USDA’s ReConnect program to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network that is expected to connect more than 1,600 Coloradans, 91 farms, 52 businesses, three fire stations, and two post offices in Dolores, San Miguel, and Montezuma Counties.

“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. “Southwest Colorado has some of the most challenging terrain in the nation, as the San Juan peaks are a photographer’s dream but a fiber builder’s nightmare. I’m excited that Emery will have the opportunity to expand service in Southwest Colorado, and I will continue to fight to connect every corner of this state to high-speed broadband.” 

This 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. 

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.