Santa Clarita, California, and Larimer County, Colorado, are the next communities considering connetivity options; both are ready to begin broadband feasibility studies.
Exploring Options in Santa Clarita
Santa Clarita, California, is located within Los Angeles County just 45 minutes north of the city of Los Angeles. The city is the third-largest in the county, with a population of 213,000 residents covering 62 square miles. The city already uses a fiber network for public safety and economic development, but want to investigate how to take their investment to the next level.
According to the city’s September 2017 press release, Santa Clarita has contracted with a consulting firm to conduct their broadband feasibility study. First, they will evaluate the effectiveness of existing broadband infrastructure for businesses and community anchor institutions (CAIs). Second, they will survey community representatives, institutions, and businesses to understand their specific broadband needs, identify challenges, and propose solutions to improve access.
In 2016, the city signed a dark fiber lease agreement with a Southern Californian telecommunications provider. The ten-year contract allowed the company to provide services via publicly owned fiber optic cable originally installed for traffic controls. The intent of the agreement is to improve high-speed Internet access for local businesses.
As the press release by the City of Santa Clarita suggests, the city is looking to further expand broadband services for residents and businesses, and to enhance its own municipal efficiencies.
Larimer County After The SB 152 Opt Out
Larimer County, Colorado, is located two hours north of Denver and is the the sixth largest county in the state by population. Most of the more than 300,000 residents live in the county's more densely populated communities of Fort Collins, Loveland, and Windsor.
On November 8, 2016, voters passed an exemption to Senate Bill 152, which prohibited the county from engaging in the provision of advanced telecommunication services either directly or with a partner. The 2005 law had been lobbied heavily by big incumbent cable and telephone companies. In recent years, communities across the state have been reclaiming local authority by opting out through local referenda. This year, at least sixteen communities will be taking up the issue.
On September 9, 2017, Larimer County received a $82,000 grant from the State of Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) Broadband Program to help fund their broadband feasibility study.
Jacob Castillo, Director of Larimer County Economic Development, stated that Larimer County is
"Recognizing that broadband services are critical to the long term economic health of the region, this feasibility study will give us important insights that will help us assess how we may be able to improve access to high speed internet in unserved and underserved areas.”
The broadband feasibility study will be part of a larger community project, the “Larimer County Mountain Resilience Plan”. The multi-phased plan is aimed to encourage development across the county. In an interview with Matt Lafferty, Principal Planner for Larimer County Community Development Division, when ask how the broadband project was involved with the resiliency plan he stated, “As roads have been important to the economy, driving it in prior decades; broadband is the new 'road' to the emerging and future economy, vital to our communities’ infrastructure needs.”