Council members
 hire firm to advise on local broadband

Grand Junction’s city leaders on Wednesday night hired a Glenwood Springs company to provide a road map to expand local broadband capabilities.

City councilors said they are more than ready to welcome faster broadband speeds and approved by a 6-0 vote a contract not to exceed $83,000 with NEOfiber.

Councilor Marty Chazen was absent from Wednesday’s meeting.

A resulting strategic plan should show Grand Junction information and recommendations for broadband investments.

NEOfiber will collect input from a number of parties to “ensure a coordinated approach that accelerates broadband development, maximizes costs savings and takes advantage of funding opportunities that are available,” according to the city’s description.

Jim Finlayson, Grand Junction’s director of information technology, listed a number of communities on the Western Slope that already have developed plans to tackle increasing their broadband speeds and scope.

A number of those cities and counties already have received grants from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to map and implement their broadband plans, Finlayson said.

“We definitely don’t want to be the last community in the state that is working on broadband,” he said.

In April, Grand Junction voters approved overriding Senate Bill 152, which had kept the city from entering into discussions or making any sort of change on its broadband plans.

NEOfiber recently completed another study in the Montrose and Delta region and currently is working with Routt County in Steamboat Springs to help bridge the broadband gaps there, Finlayson said.

He added that another reason for recommending GEOfiber is a commitment by the company to provide engineering and design services on implementing broadband.

Councilor Barbara Traylor Smith said accepting the contract is a first step in attracting people who want to move here, but hesitate because they cannot do their jobs without high-speed Internet.

“I continue to talk to people who could do their business here if they had the right speeds,” she said.


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