The Association of U S West Retirees



Celebration of broadband report is premature

The Denver Post
By Chuck Ward

January 9, 2010

Re: "The state says 97.5 percent of Colorado residents have access to high-speed Internet. Not me. Why not?," Jan. 3 Consumer Shopping Bag, business section; and "Colo. shoots for 100% broadband availability," Dec. 11 business news story.

By most measures, a 97.5 percent report of achievement would be a victory.

Recently, the state's broadband mapping report announced 97.5 percent broadband availability in Colorado.

But the report does not indicate a victory. In fact, we believe that if you asked 97.5 percent of residents, not all are convinced that they are sufficiently connected to high-speed Internet.

The state was recently awarded $2.1 million in federal stimulus grants to further map broadband availability, and it is critical that the effort reflect the true availability of broadband and its benefits. Our goal should be to ensure that Coloradans are sufficiently connected to the Internet; not to ensure that they can scrounge up any connection.

To be fair, the report used the FCC's definition of "broadband" a 768 kilobits per second (Kbps) connection but I doubt there are consumers who would consider this an acceptable speed; I know Qwest does not.

Also, the report gives equal weight to any "broadband" technology. While there are areas of Colorado where the only solution is a mobile wireless, satellite or Wi-Fi connection, Qwest believes that the end user would prefer a wireline solution for its service quality, security and reliability.

To that end, Qwest continues to invest in its network to deliver a better broadband experience to more people, and in select areas, connection speeds up to 40 megabits per second (Mbps). The majority of our Colorado customers can access speeds up to 7 Mbps more than nine times faster than the speed used in the report and many customers are choosing this speed.

For areas where we cannot economically offer broadband, Qwest supports the use of federal stimulus dollars to expand broadband. We hope the stimulus package can provide funds to expand wireline coverage to unserved areas, and we will consider applying in the future after reviewing the rules and conditions.

Most important, we will not stop working to get Colorado residents sufficiently connected to high-speed Internet.

Chuck Ward is Qwest Colorado state president.