Colorado has made an example of how to fight the big guys and is a beacon of hope for net neutrality in the US. Their government received a lesson: telling Coloradans they can’t have something is a shortcut to making them spiteful enough to do everything they can to prove you wrong.
Tuesday’s Coordinated Election saw two counties vote on ballot measures to exempt themselves from a state law prohibiting city-run internet services. Both Eagle County and Boulder County voters approved the measures, bringing the total number of Colorado counties that have rejected the state law to 31 out of 64 counties that make up Colorado.
Bill 152 backed by Big Telecom came to power in 2005, and municipalities in the state were prohibited from providing city-run broadband services. In a competitive market that’s not a big issue, but for many communities in Colorado, high-speed internet is limited, expensive, or non existent. That’s about to change, hopefully and we’ll be able to see locally run infrastructure that is to be rented to private ISP’s.
Cities are building their own broadband network, and it’s akin to treating internet access as a public utility maintained through subscription fees. Ever since Bill 152 was enacted, Colorado communities have to first bring forward a ballot measure asking voters to exempt the area from the state law before they can even consider starting a municipal broadband service. And so it was done.
In addition to the 31 counties that have voted to overrule the state restrictions, dozens of municipalities in the state have also passed similar ballot measures. Including cities, towns, and counties, more than 100 communities in Colorado have pushed back against the 12-year-old prohibition, according to the Institute for Local Self Reliance.
There are still hurdles for these communities to hop before city-run internet can actually be rolled out, but other Colorado towns have shown it’s possible, including Longmont, where the city-run internet was rated the fastest internet service provider among US cities this year by PC Magazine. If the trend continues, Colorado may soon have a lot more cities at the top of that list.