Colorado’s recently concluded COVID special legislative session included measures to improve broadband internet access. House Bill 20B-1001, which passed last week, will provide $20 million in grant funding to education providers, including school districts, to use for broadband service and other technology to increase internet access in the 2020-21 school year. The entire fund will be distributed before February 1, 2021. Broadband providers should act quickly to determine whether they can partner with local education providers to increase local broadband access using eligible grant funds.
Grand funds are available for:
- Improving internet access for students, educators, and other staff, including subscribing for broadband service and increasing the availability of internet access using technologies capable of delivering broadband service.
- Addressing broadband infrastructure needs in communities where broadband service is significantly limited or not available.
Local education providers must submit grant applications to the Department of Education describing how they will meet local broadband needs. Grants will be awarded based on several factors, including whether the proposal will be completed in the 2020-21 school year and the degree to which the applicant worked with broadband service providers to take advantage of low or no-cost options for providing service. The Department will prioritize applicants that propose to serve low-income populations and students with limited access to broadband service.
Broadband providers should coordinate with local education providers, including school districts, to evaluate potential grants to build out or expand fiber networks or to otherwise utilize this program.
Ireland Stapleton attorneys Jeff Hurd, Benjamin J. Larson, and Amy Jones contributed to this article. Ireland Stapleton’s experienced practitioners continue to review this new legislation and all legal developments surrounding the COVID 19 pandemic.
If you have questions about how any of these new laws might impact you or your business, please contact your Ireland Stapleton attorney directly.
What is written here is intended as general information and is not to be construed as legal advice. If legal advice is needed, you should consult an attorney.