Colorado Awards Grants for Telecom Planning

WASHINGTON (05/23/2000) - The Colorado Department of Local Affairs awarded $161,440 in grants to five counties and one city to finance planning for a statewide high-speed network.

The communities will use the grants to investigate what type of high-speed system would be best for their area, how best to use that technology and how to aggregate funds for the project.The grants are separate from $4.8 million that the legislature approved last year in the "Beanpole Bill."

That money will be used to unite private telecommunications providers to bring a high-speed network to underserved areas, not for the community planning.

The beanpole portion of the network will connect to the Multi-Use Network, which connects all county governments and institutions with a fiber-optic network. Flo Raitano, the executive director of the Colorado Rural Development Council, which is managing the beanpole project, said the grants were needed because the counties are unfamiliar with the technology.

"This is technical stuff," she said. "These small rural communities don't have the expertise to do this. They have to go to the private sector for advice and technical support."Unlike the MNT, the beanpole network does not have to use fiber optics, Raitano said. The communities will also consider other broadband options, such as wireless, cable and modems, she said.The Department of Local Affairs awarded the grants.

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