Colorado Wins $101 Stimulus Grant for Statewide School Broadband
Monday, September 13, 2010
Posted by: Su Hawk
Colorado wins $101M stimulus grant for statewide school broadband
Denver Business Journal
Compiled by the DBJ's Mark Harden | Greg Avery contributed reporting | firstname.lastname@example.org
Colorado has won a $100.6 million federal stimulus grant to will help provide hundreds of rural Colorado schools with super-fast Internet service by 2014, Gov. Bill Ritter announced Monday.
Longmont-based nonprofit Eagle-Net (or Educational Access Gateway Learning Environment Network), a technology purchasing cooperative for Colorado schools, will lead the effort to build a network to supply 1-gigabit broadband access for schools that lack affordable high-speed Internet.
According to plans, Eagle-Net's network will add nearly 5,000 miles of fiber-optic line or microwave relays to existing telecom networks. It would supply access for 234 school districts, libraries and other "community anchor institutions” in 177 cities and towns around the state where broadband is either inaccessible or prohibitively expensive.
"This project has the potential to provide a modern, 21st century link for every school, library and community that has been underserved because of rural location and challenging geography," Ritter said Monday in a statement. "It will allow schools to better prepare our students for the workforce, help create vibrant business communities throughout the state, and improve access to health care and public safety."
Ritter planned to formally announced the stimulus grant at a news conference Monday afternoon.
Nationwide, the federal government is awarding $7.2 billion for expanded broadband Internet access under the stimulus program, formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Colorado's grant is meant to help Colorado catch up with neighboring states such as Utah and Nebraska, which have been building better Internet infrastructure for their rural schools.
"Colorado schools really lack access compared to our neighbors, but that's something we can change," said Denise Atkinson-Shorey -- Eagle-Net's CIO and overseer of the stimulus project -- in a July interview with the DBJ. "This is our chance to do it right."
Colorado schools now average 3.5 kilobits-per-second Internet access per student, well below the national average of 6.4 kilobits, Atkinson-Shorey said.
According to Ritter's office, Colorado overall ranks 42nd out of 50 states in broadband connectivity, with broadband service costing roughly 10 times that of neighboring states.
The Eagle-Net project has commitments from public institutions and private industry to supply $43 million worth of funding or services beyond the $100.6 million in stimulus money.
Eagle-Net initially applied in August 2009 for a stimulus grant of $178 million. The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which decides half the broadband stimulus awards, urged Eagle-Net to find matching funding, demonstrate community support for the effort and apply again for a smaller grant.
Previously, projects in Colorado had landed $5.8 million from the $3.2 billion in stimulus loans and grants awarded for broadband infrastructure.
According to Ritter's office, the Eagle-Net project could potentially serve schoools in all 178 of Colorado's K-12 school districts as well as 15 community colleges, three other colleges, and 26 libraries.
IBM will assist Eagle-Net in building out a statewide broadband infrastructure. "IBM will staff and manage the project management office and provide network architects and engineers to design the overall solution and manage its deployment. In addition, IBM will be responsible for contracting with backhaul providers, local exchange carriers, network equipment vendors and wireless providers, among others," Ritter's office said.
Other project partner companies and agencies, the governor's office said, are: Adesta LLC, Cisco Systems, Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado State University, Conterra Telecom Services/BNI Solutions, Level 3 Communications, Rotary Clubs of Colorado, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, University of Wyoming and Zayo Bandwidth LLC.
Click here for Greg Avery's July 30 DBJ report about this project.