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Broadband enters phase two

 Living in rural Pitkin County may no longer mean living without Internet.

In November, voters backed an initiative that allows the county to partner with private companies in order to ensure all residents have access to broadband service — particularly those in sparsely populated areas.

Kara Sibernagel is a management analyst for Pitkin County. She says now that voters have given the green light, the next step is to analyze where service is most needed.

“What we expect from the end of phase 2 is: what are the infrastructure assets that the county can support that are really gonna carry the weight forward to provide for those unserved and underserved areas.”

A matching grant is helping cover the $212,000 cost for the consultants, who will be looking at what leverage the county might have in terms of towers and other infrastructure, to entice private companies to build in areas that might otherwise not be profitable.

Sibernagel says she is hopeful there are ways to provide service through public/private partnerships that would not require a tax hike.

The consultants will be seeking ways to bring Internet to the Castle/Maroon Creek areas, Independence Pass, Thomasville, Crystal River Valley and parts of the county near Mt Sopris.

The analysis should be done by April or May — there will be public open houses to solicit feedback prior to the final report.

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