County kicks off broadband internet survey with Tuesday meeting | SteamboatToday.com

County kicks off broadband internet survey with Tuesday meeting

— Routt County officials are hoping to connect with community members on a countywide broadband internet survey.

The survey is one of the first steps in the development of a countywide broadband plan to document current levels of internet service, identify gaps and suggest strategies to fill those gaps.

"We're trying to find the reality of what's out there for internet service," said Jane Blackstone, economic development director for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and leader of the Steamboat Springs Economic Development Council.

More information about the plan and the survey will be presented during a plan kickoff meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Centennial Hall, 137 10th St.

Blackstone said Routt County has finalized an agreement with NEO Fiber of Glenwood Springs to develop the broadband plan, using funding primarily from the Department of Local Affairs, as well as Northwest Colorado Broadband and other local partners, including the Steamboat Springs School District, the city of Steamboat Springs, Yampa Valley Medical Center and Yampa Valley Electric Association.

The group of sponsors have been working with the county for several years through Northwest Colorado Broadband to improve service to the public and anchor institutions in the community, Blackstone said.

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"For the last four years Routt County has been working to understand the telecommunication and specifically broadband industry in order to improve its network capacity including to lower costs and hopefully find redundant broadband paths to minimize if not eliminate disruptions," said Tom Sullivan, Routt County manager.

Part of the purpose of Tuesday's meeting is to encourage businesses and residents to take the developed survey, which includes a speed test.

"It's an actual speed test where you'll need to be at your computer," Blackstone said.

The survey can be found online. For business internet connections, use http://www.research.net/r/businessbroadbandrouttcounty and for home internet connections, use http://www.research.net/r/broadbandhomerouttcounty.

Blackstone said the surveying group will seek out some participants to ensure a wide range of responses, but anyone can self-select to take the survey, which she encouraged.

The survey and broadband planning come as several local communities and institutions are preparing to ask voters to potentially expand internet connectivity options by opting out of Senate Bill 152, which has slowed the growth of broadband infrastructure in rural areas of Colorado.

The bill limits what entities can do to improve high-speed internet connections in their jurisdiction. In addition to Routt County groups, including the city of Steamboat Springs, Steamboat Springs School District and towns of Yampa, Oak Creek and Hayden have expressed intent or formally decided to place opt-out questions to voters in November.

Tuesday's broadband plan kickoff meeting will be televised. For more information, call 970-875-6001.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

If you go:

What: Kickoff meeting for Routt County broadband development plan

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11

Where: Centennial Hall, 137 10th Street