FEBRUARY 14, 2019 – Elevate received good news this month from Colorado’s Broadband Board—It was awarded more than $4 million in grants to build fiber and provide high-speed internet in rural areas near Crawford, Hotchkiss, Delta, and Montrose. But, that good news was tempered when TDS, the long-time internet, phone, and TV provider in Delta County, appealed the decision. In 2017, Elevate received at $2.6 million grant from this same fund and was successful in beating a similar TDS appeal.
State law allows for incumbent providers, like TDS, to challenge the grant awards and stake their own claim to the funds. TDS alleges that a portion of the areas DMEA was awarded funds for are already served with high-speed internet. In addition, they also assert that they are planning to improve service to many of the homes around Crawford and Hotchkiss and Elevate’s project would be unnecessary.
“We send our sincere thanks to the broadband board for recognizing the need for better internet in our communities. But, we know these grants don’t come without a fight. Just like last year, TDS has appealed our award, asserting that the homes and businesses in our grant zones can already get high-speed internet. We know that’s not true,” said Kent Blackwell, Elevate and DMEA Chief Technology Officer.
Elevate is reaching out to members living within the specific grant zones asking for public comment to support their case. Specifically, members are asked to test their current internet speed at speedtest.net record that speed and compare it to the speed their carrier claims to provide.
“TDS is making bold statements about the speeds they provide, particularly in the Crawford area. We’ve heard a different story from our members, and it’s that story that the state broadband board needs to hear now. I encourage anyone who receives a message from Elevate to participate, because community input is vital to the success of our efforts,” urged Blackwell.
Elevate has until Tuesday, February 19, to file their rebuttal. In the meantime, all zones within the grant application are in a holding pattern, and it estimated that it will take several months to clear all the hurdles.
Elevate is a local fiber internet company that provides truly high-speed internet to the rural homes and businesses in Montrose and Delta counties. A wholly, owned subsidiary of the rural electric co-op, DMEA, Elevate is building a fiber network across all parts of the co-op’s service territory to improve the quality of life. Service offerings include internet speeds starting at 100 Mbps up to 1 Gig, television, and home phone. Learn more or sign up for service at elevateinternet.com.