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Regional Spotlight: Conversations for a Connected Colorado

posted Sep 26, 2014, 3:52 PM by Megan Chadwick Gernert - OIT   [ updated Sep 26, 2014, 3:52 PM ]

Quarterly Meetings

As we continue to move forward towards our goal of statewide broadband access, we (OIT) are continually analyzing our approach and modifying our efforts to fit the needs of the state.  With the increase in LTPTs coupled with the regional planning efforts under way we have been evaluating the overall needs of all stakeholders and what it is that OIT can do to contribute.  With the great success of Mountain Connect this year, we have also been looking at how we can keep the statewide conversation going and continue to build on the relationships that events such as Mountain Connect foster.  We received tremendous feedback on the LTPT and regional stakeholder meeting we had on the Sunday afternoon before Mountain Connect and want to continue that momentum. 

One of the initial efforts OIT put forward was the creation of the “Broadband Knights of the Roundtable”.  We began with a handful of key stakeholders meeting monthly to discuss broadband opportunities and issues throughout the state.  While we believe this effort helped initiate much of our current momentum, we have shifted from talking about possibilities to working on solutions and therefore our needs have changed.

With all of this in mind we have transitioned away from the idea of a separate “Broadband Knights of the Roundtable” group and towards a more collective, structured forum for sharing ideas and learning what is going on throughout the state. 

We recently launched a series of quarterly meetings for all stakeholders (public and private) to have the opportunity to come together and share perspectives and experiences on local and regional broadband efforts.  These will be half-day meetings with the first two hours dedicated to an open “roundtable” discussion and the remaining two hours used for presentation on specific topics and focused discussion on key issues.  Our goal is that these “Conversations for a Connected Colorado” will maintain the statewide efforts and foster new ideas.

With the Mountain Connect conference continuing to be the catalyst, these quarterly meetings will be held in different regions of the state and will always have a virtual attendance option.  We will announce specific dates, times, and locations as they are planned, but the general upcoming schedule is as follows:

  • December 2014 – eastern plains
  • March 2015- metropolitan area (to coincide with the legislative session) 
  • June 2015 – at the Mountain Connect Conference

Fall Meeting Recap

The initial meeting was held on September 18th in Walsenburg.  With over 80 participants in person and online throughout the meeting, we began the meeting with a discussion about what the stakeholders want from these quarterly meetings and what are the current statewide needs.  We received great input from the meeting attendees and this information will help us shape the purpose and goals of future meetings. This discussion was followed by updates from the various regional and local broadband planning efforts throughout the state.  Lastly, we presented updates on current OIT efforts including Distance Learning and FirstNet, and updates on other current issues including the Broadband Fund & Board and the FCC Rural Broadband Experiments.

If you were not able to attend, or would like to revisit the meeting please visit the following resources:

Summary of Planning Updates

Region: Upper Arkansas Area (Chaffee, Custer, Fremont, Lake, Park counties)
Point of Contact: Judy Lohnes
Lead Organization: UAACOG
Status: Working with consultant (MidState Consultants) to develop a 5 year strategic plan with county focused “chapters”.  Plan should be complete by the end of December 2014.  The consultant is working to develop projects in each city/town and county

Region: Region 10 (Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, San Miguel)
Point of Contact: Michelle Haynes and Jay Stooksberry
Lead Organization: Region 10 has contracted NEO Fiber to facilitate the implementation planning process. In addition, community representatives from Montrose, Delta, Gunnison, San Miguel, Ouray, and Hinsdale Counties are chairing our stakeholders committee and providing technical support needed for the planning process.
Status: Currently, the project is in its initial stages. NEO Fiber and Region 10 are hosting stakeholders meetings that are open to the public, but also include meetings with service providers and anchor institutions. Infrastructure mapping and engineering plans are also in their early stages of development too. What is the projected timeline? Final deliverables will be presented in 6-9 months.
Other Comments: This planning effort was the result of a generous grant by the Department of Local Affairs. Broadband development has been identified as a prominent economic barrier of entry for Western Colorado when it comes to competing in the 21st century economy. DOLA has recommended that communities band together to leverage funds and develop regional plans. One of the primary reasons for the lack of broadband infrastructure to our region is the fact that we house sparsely populated municipalities within expansive, geographically-diverse terrain. Broadband development has not been cost efficient for providers. The goal is to develop a plan that identifies "shovel ready" projects and sources of funding to implement cost effective projects that improve the accessibility, affordability, and redundancy of broadband infrastructure for all of our partner communities.
For additional information and updates, visit:

Region: Northeast Colorado (Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington, Yuma)
Point of Contact: HJ Greenwood
Lead Organization: NECALG
Status: Completed RFP process and selected vendor to hire (MidState Consultants).  Waiting for confirmation from DOLA on funding.  Each of 6 counties will provide matching funds.

Region: Northwest (Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt, Eagle, Grand, Jackson, Pitkin, Summit)
Point of Contact: Nate Walowitz
Lead Organization: NWCCOG
Status: Focused on working directly with service provider on specific projects in partnership with local govts to try to bring together and enhance public private partnerships and good relationships

Region: San Luis Valley
Point of Contact: Michael Wisdom
Lead Organization: SLVCOG
Status: SLVCOG put out an RFP for Strategic Plan.  The RFP period just ended and the steering committee will convene to discuss responses.  The plan will address:  inventory assessment and needs identification.

Region: Raton Basin
Point of Contact: Priscilla Fraser
Lead Organization: SCCOG
Status: Held a number of regional meetings and have coordinated with Prowers and Otero counties.  Raton Basin Economic Development (Huerfano, Las Animas counties and Colfax County NM) has strategic plan in place

Region: East Central (Elbert, Lincoln, Kit Carson and Cheyenne Counties)
Point of Contact: Jo Downey, ECCOG Executive Director
Lead Organization: ECCOG Board of Directors with staff assistance
Status: RFP for plan consultants was issued. Six responses and Mid State Consulting was selected to hire once DOLA contract is finalized.  An initial meeting with all interested parties anticipated to take place in mid-late October. 
Other Comments: We were encouraged by DOLA to undertake the plan. The motivation is lack of service (or existence of only minimal service) in parts of the region. Tele medicine and public safety and high tech agriculture are also great motivators as each will continue to need better and better Broadband.

Region: Teller County LTPT
Point of Contact: Norm Steen, County Commissioner,
Lead Organization:
Status: We are still developing project list. We have representation from 2 of 3 cities, 3 carriers, several business leaders (real estate, med services, technology), County IT. Led by Commissioner.
Other Comments: LTPT was started by Commissioner Steen to regionalize the work begun in adjoining Park County by Commissioner Brazell. Enabling economic development and education are biggest motivations. Mountainous terrain and widely dispersed housing and business centers are major challenges.