Broadband. We’ve all heard of it, but just what is it, anyway? While it is continually evolving, the Federal Communications Commission currently defines broadband as 25 Mbps (megabits per second) download speed and three Mbps upload. Is that a big deal? Currently, people can easily run multiple programs and devices with less than 25 Mbps; but how much less? Is 20 enough? Fifteen? Three Mbps download? Maybe that three Mbps takes care of your needs now, but how will it do in the next five or ten years?

As more and more programs and devices become available, the necessary bandwidth will continue to grow, and before too many more years have passed, even 25 Mbps will likely be less than is needed in the average home.

Even now, according to a recent post by Commissioner Mike Brazell on the Nextdoor.com website, “All new TVs are 4K. To view in 4K resolution requires 25 Mbps of internet per TV. This also includes sites like YouTube and Net- flix. TVs with 8K resolutions will be available this Christmas, requiring 40-50 Mbps each. Your picture quality is limited to your internet speed available. The picture quality on your 4K TV is likely operating at 25 percent or less, and never operates in 4K mode, due to insufficient internet.”

Do you have broadband in your home? For far too many of us in our rural area, the answer is a resounding “No.” But trying to get a company to invest millions of dollars in installing infrastructure in rural areas is almost impossible, because the payout is simply too small for them, due to the low density of rural homes.

But Colorado to the rescue. According to the Colorado.gov website, “The Broadband Fund exists to connect communities and fuel economic growth in unserved areas across Colorado. The Broadband Deployment Board provides grants through the Broadband Fund to deploy broadband service in unserved areas of the state.”

A company based in Rye, Colo., specializes in providing broadband to rural areas, using the grant program (and others like it in other states) to enable them to install the required infrastructure in those areas; they are the same company that provided internet to Guffey, and are currently installing it for a subdivision in Fairplay, among many other projects.

This company responded to a request put out by Park County’s Board of County Commissioners, and has completed an engineering study of the Burland Ranchettes area of Bailey.

If enough people are willing to commit to using their services for internet, phone, or both, they will submit an application to the BDB for a grant that would enable them to install fiber to each home in the Burland area that has signed up, fiber that will provide up to 100 Mbps immediately, with potential for significant expansion, providing sufficient bandwidth for decades.

A committee of Burland-area volunteers has formed to get the word out, attempting to get people signed up over the next several weeks. There are several ways to get more information about the project.

Go to www.burlandfiber.com for general information, including FAQs and a map of the project area, as well as a commitment form and the opportunity to sign up either online or by mail; send an email to burlandfiber@gmail.com with questions; call 303-838-7802 to speak to an actual human; or show up at the Coffee Shack, at 12 Rosalie Road. in Bailey, any Saturday from now through December 21, any time between 1 and 3 p.m., to talk with one of the volunteers who will answer your questions. And he or she will even buy you a cup of coffee.

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