Downtown board to explore broadband feasibility

The Downtown Development Authority plans to decide next week whether to pay consultants $15,000 for a study that would determine the feasibility of installing broadband Internet downtown, officials said Thursday.

If approved, the two-month study will help city leaders determine whether the “backbone” of the future broadband network should be constructed within the downtown development area first, said Jason Farrington, DDA board chairman.

Where pipes to carry fiber should be routed and how much it will cost are two of the questions the study would answer, Farrington said.

“I am for the proposal,” Farrington said. “(The city’s consultant) would look into streets in the downtown district’s core, come back, and say, ‘This is what it would take to do that project.’”

Assuming a study is conducted and recommendations are made, either city council or the DDA could issue a request for proposal asking contractors to bid on the project.

The DDA and the city already agreed that DDA will shoulder the cost of installing broadband in the downtown district, Farrington said. 

It is too early in the process to estimate the cost of the project or specify how the authority will pay for it, he said.

Currently, the authority draws from a $1 million line of credit backed by the city to pay expenditures, Farrington said.

Installation of broadband is critical to the city’s overall plan to stay competitive in the region, he said.

Downtown is where the seat of government for both city and county is located.

It is where most of the banks are located.

It is the site of thousands of square feet of office space, making it the most likely destination for any tech start-up with worldwide connections, Farrington said.

Broadband will make it much easier to attract large employers to the city.

“Any company that needed to play in that (world wide web) sandbox would have Grand Junction as a place to relocate,” he said.

Health care and media are two economic sectors that will likely see an immediate benefit from the added gigabytes of bandwidth, he said.


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