Broadband Board Changes To Expand Broadband Service
The act moves the broadband deployment board (board) from the department of regulatory agencies (department) to the office of information technology (office) and, on September 1, 2021, reduces the membership of the board from 16 to 11 members.
The board is required to develop a request for proposal process through which the board will solicit bids for proposed projects that serve critically unserved areas of the state identified by the office. The board is required to reserve up to 60% of the money from the high cost support mechanism that is allocated for broadband deployment to award grants to proposed projects solicited through the request for proposal process. "Critically unserved" is defined in the act to mean a household or area that lacks access to at least one provider of nonsatellite broadband service delivered at measurable speeds of at least 10 megabits per second downstream and one megabit per second upstream or at measurable speeds of at least one-half of the minimum measurable speeds that qualify as broadband under the federal communications commission's definition, rounded up, whichever is faster.
The act also:
- Requires an applicant or appellant to submit either written certification from a local entity indicating that the area to be served by the applicant's project is an unserved area or a statistically representative number of speed tests performed on an incumbent provider's network and conducted in accordance with industry-standard speed-test protocols;
- Gives additional consideration to proposed projects that would give discounted service for low-income households;
- Contractually requires an applicant receiving a grant award to:
- Report annually on the number of homes and businesses served by the grant-supported broadband network, the number of homes and businesses expected to be served in the following year, and the speeds, rates, and services offered to customers through the grant-supported broadband network; and
- Provide third-party performance-testing certification, after the grant money has been fully expended, that the project meets the original design of, and provides the measurable speeds, rates, and services set forth in, the application.
- Requires an applicant or appellant to submit to the office, in a form and manner determined by the office, certain granular mapping data, which data is not a public record under the "Colorado Open Records Act"; and
Uses the request for proposal process, or a substantially similar process, for the disbursement of any federal money the board receives for broadband deployment projects and programs so long as using the request for proposal process complies with federal requirements for use of the money.
For the 2021-22 state fiscal year, the act transfers $202,504 of the appropriation made in the annual general appropriation act from the department of regulator agencies to the office of the governor for use by the office of information technology to implement the act.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)