Coalition for a Connected West: Coalition for a Connected West and Built In Denver Urge Colorado to Think Ahead

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By Coalition for a Connected West

Legislative and tech leaders tout states opportunity to foster investment, innovation, and economic growth

International communications expert, Larry Irving, espouses ‘do no harm’ policy principle

DENVER, CO – Colorado lawmakers have an exciting opportunity to propel the state to the forefront of communications by driving innovation and investment in Colorado, according to a panel of lawmakers and tech experts convened by the Coalition for a Connected West (CCW) and Built In Denver today.

The panelists included Larry Irving, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce on domestic and international communications and IT issues; Erik Mitisek, chairman of Built In Denver; Angela Williams, State Representative (D-7); and Mark Scheffel, State Senator (R-4).

The discussion focused on a state legislative proposal that would benefit Coloradans by encouraging private investment in new technologies and helping to accelerate the deployment of Internet Protocol (IP) networks. Next-generation, IP networks are necessary to support the data-heavy traffic generated by devices like smartphones and tablets that have become central to our lives and our economy, according to Michael Price, executive director of CCW.

State Representative Angela Williams, chairwoman of the House Business, Labor, Economic and Workforce Development Committee, will sponsor a bill to keep IP technologies free of burdensome state regulation. Williams said that such legislation is the “right step in encouraging the type of investment we need to make sure Coloradans have access to advanced high-speed broadband networks and innovation continues to flourish in today’s digital age. Enriched educational opportunities, more efficient business operations and better access to health care all result from a more robustly connected Colorado.”

“Colorado’s lawmakers have an opportunity to send a signal that consumers, app developers, and small businesses can be confident they will have access to the latest and greatest communications infrastructure available. In an increasingly competitive economy, Colorado needs to think ahead and implement forward-looking policies that will spur continued investment and meet consumer demand for digital communications for years to come,” said Price.

Larry Irving said, “When it comes to setting communications policy, a key operating principle has to be ‘do no harm.’ Every level of government should encourage investment and innovation, not stifle it with regulatory barriers. Today, there are 2.2 billion people on the Internet. High-speed networks are transformative in so many aspects of life that we shouldn’t do anything to stand in the way of opportunity.”

“The promise of today’s devices and networks means much more than expanded entertainment options,” said Erik Mitisek, chairman of Built In Denver. “Colorado’s innovators have been empowering people to share ideas and solve problems across every sector. Especially with the cloud, seamless integration and shared knowledge is helping entrepreneurs make our institutions more responsive to societal needs in education, health care, and business. All of that happens on advanced communications networks, so it’s important we foster an environment where those networks can flourish to meet consumers’ needs.”

State Senator Mark Scheffel, who serves as the assistant minority leader, agreed, saying, “It is critical that we modernize Colorado’s 26 year-old telecommunications laws and do it in a way that spurs the kind of private investment we need to build the networks of the future. Consumers are driving changes in technology at the speed of light. We have to make sure our regulations keep up with, and don’t inhibit, that progress.”

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