CBA President’s Message
JOHN VAUGHT, J.
CBA President John Vaught discusses the threat to access to justice in greater Colorado posed by inadequate broadband infrastructure.
From the earliest days of the last century, the United States struggled to extend electricity to all rural counties in America. Tat challenge did not end until well after World War II. On its heels, the Truman, Eisenhower, an Kennedy administrations took up a similar challenge to provide telephone service to every corner of this and every state. While party lines, manual switchboards, and pay phones filled the communication gaps, eventually we came to expect electricity and telephone service in every residential home in America.
A new challenge to meaningfully communicate in a modern world, however, has taken the place of rural electricity and landline telephone service. Te new challenge is broadband connectivity in all counties in Colorado at speeds that permit users to have a meaningful connection to the Internet.1 Medicine, education, library services, the practice of law, courts, and governmental functions are just some of the areas negatively affected by the absence or ineffectiveness of broadband coverage.
Colorado has the distinction of having the “worst” county in the United States for broadband coverage: Saguache.2 Located west of Pueblo, this county’s topography has much to do with its standing. Still, only 6% of the county’s population—both residential and business—have access to the Internet. In other rural Colorado counties, students gather in Walmart parking lots and on steps of local libraries in the evening to take advantage of Wi-Fi availability.3 Without such Wi-Fi “borrowing,” there would be no reasonable Internet access in these Colorado counties.
The Broadband Problem
Fiber optic cables have been laid along inter-states and existing railroad lines throughout much of Colorado. Tis critical infrastructure is referred to as the “middle mile.” But many rural areas are still...