Access to Justice—One Fiber Optic Cable at a Time, 0219 COBJ, Vol. 48, No. 2 Pg. 4

AuthorBY JOHN VAUGHT
PositionVol. 48, 2 [Page 4]

48 Colo.Law. 4

Access to Justice—One Fiber Optic Cable at a Time

Vol. 48, No. 2 [Page 4]

The Colorado Lawyer

February, 2019

CBA PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

BY JOHN VAUGHT

This is the second of three articles in which I discuss the CBA’s efforts to bring broadband infrastructure (BBI) to practitioners in greater Colorado. I won’t repeat my first article,1 but I do want to remind members why the CBA is so deeply involved in bringing BBI to this state: The practice of law is no longer pursued with manila folders and 17-inch pleadings. Today’s legal communication and research are done over the Internet, and non-metro-area attorneys cannot thrive without the ability to communicate electronically in their practices. As a result, many young lawyers are opting not to practice in Internet-deprived areas.

Just as many lawyers in rural Colorado were without electricity in the 1940s, and without landline telephones until well into the 1960s, many present-day out-state attorneys lack a reliable and speedy Internet connection. We as a professional association must work collectively to solve this problem. If we allow it to persist, the number of practitioners in these areas will continue to dwindle, compounding the problem of access to justice in rural Colorado.

Te Federal Communications Commission defines broadband as the ability to download at 25 Mbps and to upload at 3 Mbps. Much of Colorado’s “access” falls well below these FCC standards—and some locales offer no access at all. As I discussed in my October article, broadband is commonly available in what is known as the “middle mile” via fiber-optic cable that runs along major highways, interstates, and rail lines. Te challenge is to entice the private sector to connect this backbone or “middle mile” to residential areas and businesses. This connection, know as the “last mile,” makes high-speed service possible.

Presently, with one exception, the private sector decides if this connection will be made based on a return-on-investment analysis. Tat one exception is if a county or other governmental entity opts, by general election, to take over the connection process that ties the critical “last mile” to the “middle mile,” and thus to the rest of the national system.

Associated with my duties as CBA president, I have traveled to bar associations throughout Colorado to encourage local bar members to petition county governments to shoulder the...

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