Larimer County, CO
Board of County Commissioners
On Larimer County
Larimer County recognizes broadband connectivity is a critical part of a community’s infrastructure. Connectivity, or lack thereof, affects the economy, safety, well-being, education and overall connectedness of area residents, businesses and institutions – especially those in rural and remote areas. We believe understanding and comprehensively planning for future needs is far more effective than reacting to issues as they arise. A proactive approach will allow us to work on community solutions collectively to meet the needs of all residents including students, businesses, employees, health care providers and patients, emergency responders and vulnerable populations. It is our goal to explore available options and foster collaborative partnerships as we work to address broadband disparities. In Larimer County, Everywhere is Somewhere and digital inclusion means each community and individual can be at least adequately connected.
On Next Century Cities
Larimer County values the opportunity to share experiences, ideas and lessons learned with fellow Next Century Cities members. The opportunity to collaborate with communities who are working to address rural and remote infrastructure needs is invaluable to our digital connectivity efforts in Larimer County.
What Larimer County is working on
Work to move connectivity forward could substantively commence following November 8, 2016, when voters passed Ballot Issue 1B, restoring Larimer County’s right to explore and foster available options for broadband services in unincorporated communities. This election outcome provided opportunity and responsibility for us to work with service providers, neighborhoods, home-based business owners and others to address connectivity gaps in the rural (unincorporated) areas of Larimer County.
In 2017-18, County staff worked with consultants at CTC Technology and Energy to conduct a broadband feasibility study. The study, completed in December 2018, confirmed anecdotal evidence of poor connectivity in rural and remote areas and a strong desire among community members for improved access to high-speed internet services. It also revealed significant obstacles to addressing the issue. The mountainous, rocky terrain that makes our county a beautiful place to live and recreate, paired with often remote pockets of population, create unique challenges to improving the situation.
Larimer County is now tasked with applying feasibility study findings and recommendations in its next step; strategic planning. Given the varying connectivity needs among unincorporated residents in rural and remote areas, the County’s role in making sure Everywhere is Somewhere is that of convener, not provider as many municipalities are opting to do. We recognize that connectivity has become a basic infrastructure concern akin to roads and electricity. Simply put, in today’s world broadband services are no longer optional; they are necessary. To that end, part of Larimer County’s 2019 – 2023 Strategic Plan includes an infrastructure objective work team that will address the issue of insufficient or unavailable connectivity in our rural and remote communities.
Broadband Study Phase 1: Needs Assessment prepared by CTC Technology & Energy