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CHEYENNE – Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr released on Wednesday a follow-up report from members of the Cheyenne Broadband Task Force (CBTF). Mayor Orr, in her State of the City address in 2018, announced the creation of the committee to address broadband connectivity in Cheyenne. The memo notes CBTF’s successes as well as identifying outstanding projects.
Noted successes include the Governing Body’s passage of a resolution adopting five of the CBTF’s six recommendations. Those recommendations include (1) building a publicly-owned, open access conduit network within a discrete area as a pilot project; (2) adopting a dig-once policy; (3) passing a wireless telecommunications ordinance; (4) eliminating or lowering public right-of-way access fees; and (5) building a public WiFi system within a discrete downtown area.
Since the Governing Body passed the resolution on September 10, 2018, the City passed the wireless telecommunications ordinance, lowered telecommunications right-of-way access fees by 70 percent, and built a public WiFi system in the Depot Plaza through an exemplary public-private partnership with Microsoft, Charter Spectrum, the Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, and the City.
“These are all major wins for the Cheyenne Broadband Task Force and for the City’s future. But we can’t stop there. We still have some great opportunities ahead,” Mayor Orr said.
There are two outstanding CBTF projects to execute: (1) build a publicly-owned, open-access conduit network within a discrete pilot project; and (2) adopt a dig-once policy.
“I believe the two remaining recommendations are attainable in the foreseeable future. First, we are experiencing an exciting revitalization in Cheyenne’s West Edge and together with the Reed Avenue Corridor Project, this is a prime-time area to pilot a publicly-owned, open-access conduit network,” Orr said. “This is nothing new – other communities are finding success in these kinds of public-private partnerships when it comes to broadband access and connectivity.”
“Secondly, we must adopt the dig-once policy,” Orr said. “There is so much going on here. Not only the roadwork but redevelopment of the blighted areas such as the former Cole Shopping Center, the Hitching Post, the Atlas Motel, and the Carey Building. Plus, all of the new developments such as Whitney Ranch, Sweetgrass, and Harmony Valley. We should act now.”
This kind of administrative policy would be administered through the City’s Planning and Development office. The coordination of efforts to install conduit to build out critical fiber infrastructure, when trenches or rights-of-way are exposed, saves both cost and time for developers and the public.
“The memo concludes that going forward, ‘the City can and should prioritize broadband access when it considers seemingly unrelated projects. In doing so, the City can be an example for the state and nation’ – and I couldn’t agree more,” Orr said. “We must keep broadband connectivity top of mind in all our development discussions. Access to fast and affordable internet is a must when we consider developing economic and educational experiences in our community. I look forward to working with city council to keep advancing these efforts and I thank the task force for their continued engagement.”