As part of an effort to accelerate the expansion of high-speed internet access, Colorado officials announced this week that broadband service providers can install fiber along the state’s roadways at a lower rate.
The Colorado Transportation Commission approved a fee schedule that makes the Colorado Department of Transportation’s property available for broadband development. Under the new fiber access fee schedule, broadband providers can pay $0.10 per foot of fiber optic line in urban counties with populations above 200,000 people and $0.03 per foot in rural counties. There is also a one-time charge of $0.05 per foot to cover permitting costs.
The fee schedule is the lowest in the region and is 90% lower than the initially proposed version, according to a press release.
“Just as our transportation system creates vital connections for all Coloradans, we all need the modern connectivity of broadband to fully access opportunities and services,” Karen Stuart, Colorado’s Transportation Commission Chair, said in the release. “The proposal that we approved today offers greater opportunities for broadband development, competes favorably with our neighboring states on costs, and meets the state’s existing legal obligations to care for the public land under our responsibility.”
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order in 2022 to accelerate broadband expansion in the state with the goal that 99% of households would have access to high-speed internet by 2027. At the end of 2022, 90.2% of the state had access to high-speed internet, according to the Colorado Broadband Map.
“Underserved communities have an urgent need for improved broadband access, and today’s access fee plan offers another option for high-speed internet development throughout Colorado,” said Transportation Commission Vice Chair Terry Hart in a statement. “CDOT’s right of way offers critical access to many of these communities, and so it is particularly important for this access proposal to move forward and offer these options as soon as possible.”