STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A local energy co-op has applied for grant funding to bring high-speed internet to residents in South Routt, with an additional fiber optic network slated to arrive in North Routt by the summer.
The Yampa Valley Electric Association’s subsidiary, Luminate Broadband, submitted a grant request to the state to deploy broadband service to communities in Stagecoach and Lynx Pass, according to a document from the Routt County Board of Commissioners.
During its Tuesday meeting, the county commissioners submitted a letter of support to the Department of Regulatory Agencies in Denver, which administers the state’s Broadband Fund. The department’s mission, according to its website, is to provide grants “to deploy broadband services in unserved areas of the state,” particularly in rural communities.
Commissioner Tim Corrigan, who represents the South Routt area, said YVEA’s initiative marks the first attempt of a private internet provider tapping into the county’s new fiber optic cable, which runs through Steamboat Springs. That is part of a regional broadband improvement project, known as Project THOR, a 178-mile fiber optic loop, connecting at least 12 communities in Northwest Colorado.
According to county documents, South Routt has long needed better internet connectivity and has been “perpetually underserved” in this area. The federal definition of broadband service is a minimum download speed of 25 Mbps and an upload speed of 3 Mbps.
According to Corrigan, many residents in Stagecoach and Lynx Pass have internet speeds far below the federal definition.
“Because of this lack of connectivity, we fear this area is being left behind, and failing to thrive,” the commissioners said in their letter of support.
On its website, the YVEA subsidiary encourages South Routt residents to fill out a survey and conduct an internet speed test as a way to secure grant funding. As of Thursday, the company had achieved 16% of its customer outreach goal, with 554 more customers still needed to participate.
To submit the survey and internet speed test, visit, join.luminatebroadband.com.
This is among several attempts from Luminate Broadband to deploy high-speed internet access in and around Craig, Hayden and Steamboat Springs. Earlier in the month, the YVEA subsidiary was awarded more than $858,000 in grant funding from the state’s Broadband Fund for such efforts, according to the Department of Regulatory Agencies.
Steve Johnson, general manager of YVEA, said that grant is specifically for bringing a fiber optic network to the Willow Creek subdivision in North Routt. He expects about 300 people to benefit from the service when it launches in summer 2020, with more people to have access as the network expands.
“We are hoping we can serve all of North Routt,” Johnson said.
Residential rates would start at $54.95 per month for 100 Mbps, he said.
Corrigan hopes this is a step toward improving internet speeds in other parts of South Routt in the future. He lives just south of the town of Yampa, an area that has been plagued with download speeds of about 6 Mbps, he said.
“That’s pretty slow. If we had more fiber optic capacity, that would give us the ability to provide higher speeds,” Corrigan said.
The Federal Communications Commission’s Connect America Fund has attempted to provide similar financial support as the state’s Broadband Fund to rural parts of the country. Communities in South Routt have partially benefitted from the federal fund, but as their internet speeds show, the initiative has not been as effective as planned, Corrigan said. That has left the door open for companies like YVEA to fill the gaps.
He added the commissioners would be happy to support other private internet providers that want to push for similar broadband services in underserved areas of the county.