The growing digital divide, wherein densely populated centers continue to make huge leaps forward in terms of high-speed Internet connectivity while rural areas get left behind, has become a major concern for a number of organizations, and steps are being taken to bridge the gap, both locally and nationwide.
In an interview Monday afternoon, Jason Cox, the president of the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation (CDC), explained to SUN staff that this is an economic development issue that affects both businesses and individuals.
If a business can’t get a reliable connection to the Internet, it will relocate to a different community. If a person can’t take a picture at Wolf Creek Ski Area and post it on the Internet, he or she will go to Vail or Aspen for their next vacation.
Furthermore, Cox characterized Internet connectivity as a necessity, not a luxury and, as such, it is an infrastructure problem, not unlike roads, electricity, water or sewer.
Several members of the CDC attended the Mountain Connect Conference in Aspen this summer, where this issue was explored in detail, and as a result have decided to form a work group to deal with the issue locally. Cox said this group has yet to hold a meeting, since the CDC is still in the process of gathering interested stakeholders, but it remains one of the group’s top priorities.