USDA Reconnect Program Grant

October 27, 2022 – DENVER, CO – Today, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper welcomed a $18.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the Eastern Slope Rural Telephone Association, Inc. to deploy a fiber-optic network to connect families, farms, businesses, and educational facilities in nine Colorado counties. This grant comes from the USDA’s ReConnect Program, which received nearly $2 billion in new funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as part of a broader $65 billion investment to deploy affordable, high-speed internet across the country

“This $18.7 million grant is exactly the kind of investment we have to make in rural America,” said Bennet. “In the year 2022, high-speed internet is a necessity for families, farmers, and small businesses everywhere. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, that is why I have consistently supported USDA’s ReConnect program to expand high-speed internet in rural communities, and why I helped secure $65 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to bring affordable, high-speed internet to every American. I am grateful to see these funds hit the ground in Colorado and make a difference for rural communities.

“Bringing high-speed internet to our rural communities on the Eastern Plains is critical for small businesses, telehealth, virtual classes, and more. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continues to deliver for all Americans,” said Hickenlooper. 

“The Eastern Slope Rural Telephone Association, Inc. is pleased to accept a ReConnect grant that will bring broadband to nearly 4,000 square miles of Eastern Colorado. Upon completion of the fiber-to-the-premise project, our cooperative members will have access to abundant, reliable and affordable broadband. We would like to thank Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper for their support of broadband in rural Colorado,” said Patricia White, General Manager/CEO, Eastern Slope Rural Telephone Association, Inc.

With today’s $18.7 million grant, the Eastern Slope Rural Telephone Association, Inc. will deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 2,284 people, 898 farms, 110 businesses, and 17 educational facilities to affordable, high-speed internet in Adams, Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Crowley, Elbert, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Lincoln, and Washington counties in Colorado. 

Bennet has long advocated for affordable, high-speed internet access for rural and Tribal communities. In June 2021, he introduced the bipartisan Broadband Reform and Investment to Drive Growth in the Economy (BRIDGE) Act to provide $40 billion in flexible funding to states, including $2 billion to Tribal governments, to deploy affordable, high-speed internet across the country. The BRIDGE Act was later incorporated into the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which is now making the largest broadband investment in U.S. history. Hickenlooper was part of the bipartisan group of Senators who authored the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and served on the broadband working group.  

In March 2021, Bennet also led a bipartisan letter to the Biden administration urging it to update the minimum speeds for federally funded broadband networks to ensure rural communities enjoy the same, ultra-fast internet required for the 21st century. USDA’s ReConnect Program later updated the minimum standards to require download and upload speeds of at least 100 megabits per second, consistent with Bennet’s letter. The Federal Communications Commission has since proposed to update its minimum standards as well.

Earlier this month, Bennet and Hickenlooper welcomed nearly $23 million for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe from the Department of Commerce’s Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program to expand high-speed internet access to Tribal and rural communities. In September, the Delta-Montrose Electric Association also received a $13.8 million grant from the USDA’s ReConnect program to expand its fiber optic network primarily in Delta and Montrose counties. 


USDA Reconnect Program Grant

Eastern Slope Technologies awarded $18.7 Million USDA ReConnect Grant

Eastern Slope Technologies was awarded a $18.7 Million ReConnect grant through the USDA. This grant will extend fiber to every location in our Genoa, Arriba, Karval, Eads, Haswell, Kit Carson, and Woodrow exchanges. This future-proof fiber network will provide synchronous Gig capabilities throughout 7 of our 10 exchanges. The monies will be used to provision 645 miles of additional buried fiber spanning over 3,964 square miles. Construction will start in 2023, beginning with the Genoa and Arriba exchanges, followed by Karval, Haswell, Eads, Kit Carson, and Woodrow.
Mr. Armando Valdez, State Director of USDA Rural Development for Colorado, presented the award to Eastern Slope on November 14, 2022. Mr. Valdez praised the cooperative for their efforts to bring broadband to some of the most rural areas of eastern Colorado and noted that broadband is the “great equalizer”, putting our customers on an equal playing field with the rest of the world for jobs, education, economic development, and healthcare. Valdez also stated that Eastern Slope’s application was scored among all applications submitted nationally, and the $18.7 Million award was the largest award presented in Colorado.



Bringing Fiber to rural Colorado!

Fiber to the Home will be provided to families and businesses in these service areas.

Hugo and Flagler are not funded by the Reconnect Grant, but still receiving fiber.

The Amazing Benefit of Fiber Internet

When it comes to selecting Internet technology for your home or business, it can be challenging to determine which one is the best. Every service provider claims to provide fast and reliable Internet, but is there really a clear winner when it comes to how it is delivered?
The answer is YES! Fiber delivers better video picture and sound, provides incredible reliability when working from home, has the lowest latency for activities like online gaming, handles multiple connected devices with ease and provides considerable advantages to businesses. Fiber optic Internet is the new gold standard for Internet technology and those fortunate enough to have access to it enjoy many advantages.

Internet travels to homes and businesses in a variety of ways: by radio waves, phone lines, cable networks, electric wiring or fiber optics. DSL uses copper lines, which were originally designed to carry voice signals and cable Internet is delivered through coaxial cables. DSL caps out at much slower speeds than fiber and both cable and DSL typically have significantly slower upload speeds.
Fiber Internet uses cutting-edge technology to deliver data to and from your devices at the speed of light. Light travels through fiber optic lines at speeds that far surpass that of cable and DSL. Download AND Upload speeds are symmetrical (same download/upload). Eastern Slope Technologies currently offers speeds up to a Gig.

Internet technologies such as copper, DSL and wireless can be affected by outside factors such as severe weather, temperature fluctuations and moisture. Fiber optic cables are constructed via small flexible strands of glass. Because the signal is light instead of electricity, fiber Internet is unaffected by electrical surges, moisture or cold.
Fiber also sends data further than other technologies like wireless or copper, which are limited by distance or physical line of site to an antenna. So whether you’re next door to your Internet provider or across the county, you’ll always enjoy faster load times and higher-quality streaming.

A fast Internet connection is essential to enjoy 21st century entertainment. It provides the ability for super high definition and 8k video streaming, virtual reality, real-time online gaming, watching your favorite online videos, connecting via social media and video calls. As technology continues to advance, only fiber Internet has the capacity to evolve with it.

Latency refers to how much time it takes for a signal to travel to its destination and back. Low latency is very important for activities like online gaming, video conferencing, stock trading or any activity where a delay matters. Fiber Internet typically has much lower latency than wireless, cable, DSL or 5G and since no…one…wants… to… face… time… like… this … Latency matters and it’s much better with fiber.

The average number of Internet connected devices in the home continues to rise each year and Internet usage does too. In a few short years, most homes will have dozens of connected devices and Gig Internet will be the norm. While other Internet technologies have already reached their limits, the potential of fiber has hardly been tapped. The unique technology of fiber provides the ability for it to grow with the data and speed needs of the future, so whether connecting dozens of devices, or hundreds, fiber is ready.

The incredible speed and reliability of fiber make it the best choice for businesses. We know that time is money and according to research, a slow Internet connection costs employees one week per year of productivity. The bandwidth capabilities also make it the ideal way to quickly access data and applications stored in the cloud. Fiber also offers security advantages. Unlike other technologies, the only way to penetrate a fiber-optic cable is to physically cut the fiber, which will cause the signal to disappear. It’s also future proof, so as your technology needs grow, fiber will be ready to handle the Internet needs of your business for decades to come.