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Taking an internet speed test could help make case for better infrastructure

Council of governments collecting data
The Southwest Colorado Council of Governments would like residents to test their internet speed this month. The tests will help the council advocate for money to improve rural broadband service. The council also is offering tax credits for donations to fiber construction, such as providing land for fiber lines, in the economically distressed areas shown in purple.

Some rural internet customers in Southwest Colorado may pay for internet speeds that they don’t experience.

To help advocate for funding to pay for improved rural broadband internet infrastructure at the state and federal levels, the Southwest Colorado Council of Governments encourages residents to take the state’s internet speed test until the end of the month, said Miriam Gillow-Wiles, executive director of the council.

Local governments from Montezuma, Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata and San Juan counties are members of the council, which works on regional issues.

“It will help with the legislative process,” Gillow-Wiles said of the data.

Rural residents are encouraged to test speeds where data is more difficult to collect, she said.

“That way we have a better understanding of what speeds are available where,” she said.

Internet users should try to test their internet during peak use times – between 5 and 9 p.m. when internet speeds slow down – and times when faster internet may be available.

The council collects the data through the state’s website. All of the personal data submitted is protected. The test doesn’t ask for your name or other identifying information, aside from an address, she said.

The council was also recently approved to provide state tax credits to donors who want to contribute to the construction infrastructure for internet.

A regional strategic broadband plan found the five-county region needs $55 to $60 million for trenching, conduit, fiber, easements, permitting, and engineering to improve internet service, a news release said. The new fiber will be open, so any company will be able to lease it once it is complete.

A tax credit is available to property owners in economically distressed areas who donate right-of-way for fiber.

The credits could also spur partnerships between the council and private communications companies interested in partnering on the project, she said. The tax incentives will be available until 2022.

To help connect rural health facilities with fiber, the council also plans to apply for fiber grant funding in 2018 through a Federal Communication Commission program, Gillow-Wiles said.

The speed test data could also help strengthen the council’s grant applications.

Take an internet speed test at http://maps.co.gov/publicspeed/


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