What is 3G?
The term stands for the "third generation of telephone standards and technology for mobile networking." Through improved spectral efficiency, 3G networks allow a wider range of advanced cellular phone services such as wide-area wireless voice technology, video calls and broadband wireless data transmissions similar to the features one would find on an iPhone or other highly sophisticated mobile device.
Steamboat Springs Faster Internet connections, the creation of technical education programs and increased availability of 3G cellular phone service will be explored as part of a regional economic strategic plan for the Yampa Valley.
Government and economic development officials from throughout Northwest Colorado gathered at a joint meeting of the Routt County Board of Commissioners and Steamboat Springs City Council on Monday to debate measurable goals to increase the region's economic diversity and wealth.
During the course of six meetings since September, a steering committee of regional officials identified the three goals debated Monday. Some officials questioned their feasibility or expressed disappointment that other goals such as affordable housing were omitted.
Roger Good, a member of the steering committee that developed the goals, led the conversation and stressed the need to keep the list of goals short, manageable and SMART - an acronym for "specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely." Timely was defined as within the next five years.
The goals as presented were that the region should work to create technical, cross-industry education programs at local colleges in energy sciences, new energy, entrepreneurial support, telecommunications, the Internet and other to-be-determined fields; provide 3G service coverage on 95 percent of all paved roads in Routt County, rated as such by at least one cellular provider; provide 3 megabyte-per-second download speeds and 1.5 megabyte-per-second upload speeds to 95 percent of county residents; and provide 10 megabyte-per-second download speeds and 5 megabyte-per-second upload speeds to 75 percent of county residents.
Good stressed that the specific numbers in the goals were arbitrary and presented solely to illustrate the need that goals should be specific and measurable. The actual order of magnitude increases that would be sought has not yet been defined.
"It's going to take us a number of months to get the numbers right," Good said.
Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush challenged the goals, noting that businesspeople she has spoken with have not expressed the need for these infrastructure improvements but do speak to the need for more affordable housing, child care and office space. Steering committee members noted that although that may be in the case in Steamboat Springs, other areas of the region have vastly inferior Internet and cellular networks.
Hayden Town Manager and steering committee member Russ Martin noted that commercial office space is "dirt cheap" in Hayden and child care costs are reasonable. He said the group tried to pick goals that would benefit the region as a whole, and he said that community plans and other studies from across the region identified the three goals debated Monday.
"When you look at the stack of documents, all these things come out," Martin said.
Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak agreed. She said that although she is a big proponent of affordable housing, she realized that the issue was too controversial, confusing and probably not attainable in a timely manner.
"I bit my tongue and didn't say anything about work force housing," Stahoviak said.
Steamboat Springs City Councilwoman Cari Hermacinski, who works in the telecommunications industry, said enhancing 3G coverage would be a challenge. She said carriers already are struggling to meet their demands in New York and Los Angeles.
"There are tremendous barriers to overcome with this," she said. "There's just no way a ton of money is going to be spent out here in the square states."