Golden’s Bold Broadband Plan

By:

  • Brittney D. Kohler
June 29, 2021

Speeding Up Internet Delivery with a Core Fiber Ring in Golden, CO, for 1800s Buildings and Every Neighborhood

NUMBERS AT A GLANCE
Population20,693
Cost of Fiber Ring$2 million
Housing Units in Golden8,739

Golden, Colorado, is a picturesque town in the mountains outside of Denver with a lively main street and jobs that bring in more people each day to work than live in the city. It is also home to the renowned School of Mines and a regional K-12 public school district. Well before the Covid-19 pandemic, city leaders in Golden understood that high-speed internet access was a critical piece of infrastructure for their resident’s livelihoods; while Golden is not rural, many of its buildings are older – some date as far back as the 1800s – and were not constructed to accommodate broadband, so the connectivity challenges are harder. 

While larger businesses may be able to afford to build broadband lines, smaller businesses cannot. City leaders recognized that residents need access to high-speed internet in order to have the opportunity to learn, to work, and participate in the regional and national economy.

How to Move Fast in this Small Town

In November of 2016, Golden voters supported by a margin of 4-1 the override of state legislation that prohibits local government from supporting, either directly or indirectly, advanced telecom services, thus authorizing the city to investigate alternatives for promoting advanced telecom services to their citizens. Golden quickly launched a task force which revealed that the critical first step was to construct a $2 million fiber ring around the city. Working within the confines of their future budgetary needs, the city planned to begin a three-year phased construction of this fiber ring with a completion goal of 2026. All of this planning was done before the Covid-19 pandemic, which expedited the need but not the project.  

Golden would like to accelerate the construction of the ring as well as the spurs into all the surrounding neighborhoods to serve the whole city. The $2 million fiber ring is the backbone that will support city buildings, the central business district, and the school district buildings. After that, they will need to construct additional lateral pieces into each neighborhood which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per line so the project costs are phased but exceed available funding to connect the main ring to the neighborhoods. Even with the urgency of the pandemic, the soonest they could complete the fiber ring is 2023, and that is far too far away. But Golden, like every other city, grappled in 2020 with access for distance learning and remote workers. They can’t wait five more years to deliver this critical infrastructure to their residents.

Broadband in Golden Supports the Local Economy from the Bottom Up

Investing in this broadband project provides resiliency and redundancy for all city operations including public safety and public works. It supports our local economy and small businesses by providing them with the same broadband capacity as larger corporations and offers every household in our city access to high-speed, reliable, and affordable internet. Without a doubt, we consider fiber as we do other infrastructure resources: a long-term asset that supports our municipal operations and community needs.” – Golden Mayor Laura Weinburg

Cities Are Ready to Rebuild with Congress’ Help

Golden’s broadband story is one of the hundreds across the country. From the smallest to largest communities, every community has an infrastructure story to tell, and NLC’s latest Ready to Rebuild showcases a range of transportation, water, broadband, and workforce projects across the country from communities of all sizes that Congress could support with legislation. While projects are different, the message from local officials was the same: infrastructure is a job worth doing, but in most places, it’s now beyond what the local government can handle on its own. Does that sound familiar?  

Take Action: Highlight Your City and Why You’re #ReadytoRebuild 

Join NLC as we keep calling on Congress to directly invest in local infrastructure and prepare for a better future. Congress is actively negotiating an infrastructure package so now is the time to share your infrastructure priorities with:

  1. Your Member of Congress’ staffer in Washington, DC. Use NLC’s pre-drafted letter here, or if you want a staffer’s email from your Member of Congress’ office, please just let us know at advocacy@nlc.org.
  2. Your Senators’ staffers in Washington, DC. Use NLC’s pre-drafted letter here, or if you want a Senate staffer’s email, please just let us know at advocacy@nlc.org.
  3. Take a few minutes to fill out NLC’s Ready to Rebuild form to share your priority projects here

About the Author

Brittney D. Kohler

About the Author

Brittney Kohler is the Program Director for Transportation & Infrastructure on NLC’s Federal Advocacy team.