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Broadband Program

Broadband Program

The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted communities throughout the country, creating economic hardships for many. It has also highlighted inequity, in many areas, including Internet access. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provides funding opportunities for state and local government to help support the economic recovery. A portion of funding provided through ARPA is dedicated to infrastructure (broadband) projects that will help eliminate barriers toward equitable digital access.

In June 2021, the Boulder County Information Technology Department established a Broadband Program to help identify unserved and underserved areas in the county and work towards developing solutions to close the digital divide (the gap between those who have access to computers and the internet, and those who do not).

The Boulder County Broadband Program will support projects and opportunities that serve all residents and businesses in Boulder County and establish equity for everyone.

This website will provide the community with updates and status on:

  • Broadband projects in the county
  • Broadband availability and ISPs
  • Grants and funding opportunities for service providers and partners
  • Broadband benefits/programs available to county residents

Updated information on projects, funding and broadband providers will be posted to this website, so check back to stay informed on all things related to broadband in Boulder County.

Broadband or High-Speed Internet?

person typing on laptopBroadband or high-speed internet is a large amount of bandwidth that can carry different types of signals (voice, data, etc.) at the same time across a network.

The most reliable and resilient way to provide Broadband connection is through fiber-optic cable, but broadband can be provided by using any of the following technologies: wireless, satellite, cable, microwave, or DSL.

The Federal Communications Commission defines a high-speed internet connection that can provide stable transmission speeds of at least 25 Mbps during download, and 3 Mbps during an upload across the connection often referred to as a 25/3 connection. Technologies such as DSL are limited in some cases and incapable of achieving 25/3.

The 25/3 speed is the minimum connection speed needed to access important services such as telemedicine, distance learning, and video conferencing require a lot of bandwidth to work efficiently, yet there are still areas within Boulder County that are not capable of reaching these speeds with their provider.

The Broadband Program would like to get your feedback about the access and affordability that Providers offer in Boulder County. Please take a moment to fill out our Broadband Survey. Thank You!

If you would like to check the speed being provided from your Internet Service Provider, click Speed Test. The link is provided by Ookla, and the service is free.
Not able to get a 25/3 connection from your current Service provider? Please send us an email so we can review the FCC data reported in your area. Thank you.
If you would like to find a Service Provider in your local area, click Find my local ISP.

If you need assistance paying for Internet, Boulder County residents can apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program.

What is the Affordable Connectivity Program?

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a U.S. government program run by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program to help low-income households pay for internet service and connected devices like a laptop or tablet.

You are likely eligible if your household’s income is below 200% of the Federal Poverty Line, or if you or someone you live with currently receives a government benefit like SNAP, Medicaid, SSI, WIC, Pell Grant, or Free and Reduced-Price Lunch.

If your household is eligible, you could receive:

  • Up to a $30/month discount on your internet service
    Up to a $75/month discount if your household is on qualifying Tribal lands
    A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50)
    A low cost service plan that may be fully covered through the ACP*

Boulder County Broadband Strategy and Current Opportunities

The strategy to increase Broadband to as much of the community as possible, is being implemented in a “triage” approach. This means that the program will:

  • Focus on facilitating broadband availability/access to unserved or underserved areas
  • Work with Partners and other Vendors to build out or augment existing networks
  • Identify alternatives to provide broadband to areas with challenges (geographic location, etc.)

Opportunities that the Broadband Program will leverage to support the program:

  • Promote and develop Partnerships with local organizations and Service Providers
  • Investment opportunities – “shovel-ready projects” (e.g. CDOT, REA’s, Co-op’s, etc.)
  • Identify and gain insight into all funding opportunities available

Grants and Funding

Broadband infrastructure improvements are a significant focus under ARPA, especially in diverse geographic and/ or economically distressed areas currently unserved (no service or provider available) or underserved (low transmission speeds, video delays, technology). The Boulder County Broadband Program has reviewed data provided by the State of Colorado and Federal agencies to identify areas in Boulder County where work to provide broadband should be prioritized to ensure all residents have a chance to be part of the digital economy.

There are multiple grant and funding opportunities available to provide the extra capital required to build out broadband in areas that require above average funding in some cases. These programs are available through both the State of Colorado and multiple Federal agencies such as the FCC, EDA, USDA, etc. For a current list of grants, subsidies and loans for broadband planning and construction efforts, please go to Broadband Funding. There is a large list of available resources and funding available, and the file can also be downloaded in PDF or XLS formats for quick reference.

The Boulder County Broadband Program is available to help with:

  • Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA)
  • Eligibility questions
  • Application requirements
  • Application dates and deadlines
  • Letters of support

Please reach out to us for any assistance @ Boulder County Broadband Program.

Broadband Map

Federal agencies and the State of Colorado have developed GIS mapping tools to assist local governments in making informed decisions regarding unserved/underserved areas in every community. These maps provide valuable information for leaders making funding decisions for infrastructure.

Mapping and data collection requirements now show indicators of broadband need such as social, economic, and technical information.

A map for Boulder County has been created that provides information on Broadband availability by address and the ISP’s serving local communities. To check your address, you can use the BoCo Broadband Mapping tool. The mapping tool shows coverage, data speeds and providers for the entire county.

Broadband FAQ

A list of frequently asked questions has been provided to provide general knowledge and facts about broadband and its benefits. Please contact us if you have other questions. Boulder County Broadband Program.

Q: What is Broadband?
A: Broadband or HSI (high speed internet) as it’s more commonly referred to in telecommunications, is a large amount of bandwidth that can carry different types of signals (voice, data, etc.) at the same time across a network.

Q: Is there a difference between broadband and high speed internet?
A: No. Broadband and HSI are the same thing.

Q: Do I need fiber-optic cable to get broadband service?
A: No, broadband or high speed internet can be provisioned using several different technologies. Example: fiber, DSL, cable, wireless, microwave, or satellite. (Some technologies such as DSL, may not be able to achieve speeds of 25/3 due to distance and physical limitations of copper/twisted pair).

Q: What does the term 25/3 mean?
A: 25/3 is a term used to describe the download/upload speed of an internet connection in megabits per second (Mbps). The FCC defines 25/3 as high-speed internet. Applications and other programs like distance learning, telemedicine and video calls consume a large amount of bandwidth.

Q: How do I check the speed of my broadband connection?
A: Ookla provides a free service to check your connection speeds (download/upload).

Q: Is Broadband a utility?
A: Some people now consider broadband the “fourth utility”. Based on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal government has determined that broadband is essential for all residents to provide digital equity and inclusion.

Q: What is digital equity.
A: Digital equity is the goal ensuring that everyone in our society has equal access to technology tools, computers and the Internet.

Q: What is the difference between an “unserved” and “underserved” area?
A: Unserved areas currently do not have any availability to access broadband services through a local provider. Underserved areas have at least one service provider, although the speed may not be 25/3, it may be 10/1, etc. These areas do not necessarily have to be rural; they can also be urban areas in some cases.

Q: What companies provide broadband in my area?
A: To find out who the local providers in your area are, visit Find my local ISP

Q: Is Boulder County going to provide broadband/internet services in my community?
No, Boulder County is not an internet service provider. The county is working with local providers and vendors to identify shovel-ready projects and develop partnerships with providers to prioritize areas in the community that need access to services.

Q: How can the community assist in closing the digital divide in Boulder County?
The Broadband Program is interested in your feedback on how we can support the community at large. Please send us an email.

Broadband Definitions