CHEYENNE - A local internet provider announced plans to offer long-awaited improvements to internet service for home and business customers here Wednesday. 

Spectrum, which is under the umbrella of Charter Communications Inc., will offer speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second by this fall, according to a news release, more than doubling current top-end speeds. A spokesperson did not have exact prices yet, but officials promised the services would be "affordable." 

The announcement comes amid an official push for broader and faster internet access. Cheyenne businesses have long complained of pricey estimates for top-notch services that other Front Range cities provide at reasonable costs, and Wyoming as a whole contends with issues with a sparse population and a large number of rural communities. 

Mayor Marian Orr responded to complaints in January, announcing a broadband task force with the ambitious goal of making gigabit service "as accessible as turning on the tap and having water."

The task force's recommendations published last month focused more on the city's role in improving broadband, but Orr said she felt the pressure forced the company's hand. 

"I think that basically by making some noise and (having) broadband being part of our goals and initiative ... it pushed it to the forefront," she said. "And that's a win for the community."

Eric Trowbridge, who led the task force and runs the Array School of Technology and Design downtown, was elated by the announcement.  

He said if Spectrum stuck within his suggested price range - $100-$150 a month for residential customers - it would be a "huge win."

The same service launched in Grand Junction, Colorado, in May at $104.99 a month for residential customers and $199.99 per month for businesses, according to a news release. 

"It took a lot of negotiations and partnering to make this happen," Trowbridge said, "and I'm very, very thankful to Charter for putting more money into our state and Cheyenne." 

Gov. Matt Mead, a longtime proponent of expanding broadband access throughout the state, was also pleased with the news. 

"I view this connectivity issue as critical for Wyoming's future," he said. "To me, it's (like) building rail, it's (like) building highways."

To go directly to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's website, click here.

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