City aims to encourage expansion of broadband

Grand Junction is rolling out a new plan to encourage high-speed, fiber optic broadband expansion in the city.

In a first public look during Tuesday’s night’s workshop, the city’s plan aims to help companies pay for fiber installation up to $10,000 per project, with the costs to be repaid to the city within three years.

The Grand Junction City Council on Tuesday gave the Broadband Capital Fund the nod, and city staff are expected to fine tune the details. Councilors are expected to officially sign off on the plan at a later date.

In the wake of councilors earlier this year nixing a plan by SiFi/Nokia to create an estimated $70 million high-speed, fiber broadband network, councilors directed city staff to come up with other ideas to boost broadband expansion among incumbent providers, Grand Junction City Manager Greg Caton said.

Dollars will be allocated on a yearly basis to the fund, he said.

“We have flexibility to expand or contract this based on funding,” Caton said.

A draft of the Broadband Capital Plan states the city will pay up to 50 percent of capital construction costs, but no more than $10,000 per project.

Projects areas would include ones in which businesses do not already have broadband access. Installing broadband in residential areas may exceed the city contribution limits.

“The intent is to make the construction and installation costs … affordable to an underserved location, where the added costs would otherwise make the installation unaffordable,” according to an outline of the plan.

Companies would have to demonstrate the need to add broadband in a location and show that a project provides economic development opportunities. According to the draft plan, projects must start within three months of approval and preference will be given to companies that retain or provide jobs for locals.


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